A picture of the mudslide
Image caption People may have been asleep when the mudslide occurred

At least 200 people have been killed in a mudslide near Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, the Red Cross says.

A hillside in the Regent area collapsed early on Monday following heavy rains, leaving many houses covered in mud.

A BBC reporter at the scene said that many people may have been asleep when the mudslide occurred.

Sierra Leone’s Vice-President Victor Bockarie Foh said it was “likely that hundreds are lying dead”. The number of casualties is expected to rise.

Mr Foh told Reuters news agency that the disaster was “so serious that I myself feel broken”. He said that the area had to be cordoned off as people were evacuated, with many still feared trapped in their homes.

Locals were reportedly trying to recover bodies from the rubble and mud with their bare hands.

Also read:  DHS boss threatens ‘caravan’ border-crossers with prosecution, detention, deportation

The worst-hit area is thought to be the Regent district on the outskirts of Freetown, where dozens of houses were submerged when the hillside collapsed at about 06:00 GMT.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionHeavy rains have flooded Freetown’s streets

A Red Cross spokesperson said that at least 205 bodies had been taken to the central morgue in Freetown, Reuters reports.

Another spokesman for the Red Cross, Abubakarr Tarawallie, told the BBC that the organisation’s volunteers and staff had been involved in search and rescue operations and that people affected were in immediate need of shelter and blankets.

He added that at least 100 properties had been submerged and that some had collapsed after a section of Sugar Loaf mountain came down before sunrise.

Also read:  Trump, GOP leaders face backlash over $1.3 trillion spending package
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People in Regent were wading through streets waist-deep in muddy water

The AFP news agency later reported that the total death toll from flooding in and around the capital had risen to 312.

Hundreds of people are likely to be left homeless following the mudslide.

A Sierra Leonean disaster management official, Candy Rogers, said that “over 2,000 people are homeless” as a result of the mudslide in the Regent area, AFP reports.

Mr Rogers said that a huge humanitarian effort will be required to deal with the aftermath of the flooding.


At the scene: Search for loved ones

By Umaru Fofana, BBC Africa

People are wailing uncontrollably; one woman told me she had lost more than 11 members of her family in the disaster, while another man said he had lost his wife, mother-in-law and children.

Also read:  Barclays sees 20 percent gain for Spotify, says it's reinventing how music is sold

Hundreds of people are still coming to the area to look for their loved ones. Some of them told me they have not been able to find them.

In fact, there is no sign of the dozens of homes that were built at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain.

They are covered in mud, with large areas of mire in some parts. It looks strong, but it is flaky. The concern is that if people walk there they risk sinking in the mud.


Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBBC Weather’s Tomasz Schafernaker explains why Sierra Leone has been hit with torrential rain and mudslides.

Images posted on Twitter show people wading through streets, waist-deep in muddy water following the downpour in and around Freetown.

Flooding is not unusual in Sierra Leone, where unsafe housing in makeshift settlements can be swept away by heavy rains.

The rains often hit areas in and around Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of more than one million people.

In 2015, Freetown endured deadly floods sparked by monsoon rains that killed 10 people and left thousands more homeless.


LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here