15 August 2017
Red Cross volunteers are digging for survivors and supporting distraught families in the wake of heavy flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone.
A hillside in the mountain town of Regent, greater Freetown, collapsed yesterday morning after a night of heavy rain, burying houses and turning roads into churning rivers.
Volunteers have so far rescued 71 people from mud and debris.
More than 300 people have been killed. As people would have been sleeping when the disaster occurred, there are fears many could be trapped inside their houses.
Current estimates also indicate that as many as 3,000 people have been made homeless with that figure expected to rise.
Red Cross response
Volunteers from the Sierra Leone Red Cross are supporting the government search and rescue operations and helping to transport the injured to hospital. They are also bringing those who have died to the mortuary.
The British Red Cross is also in-country, supporting their Sierra Leonean colleagues and identifying areas for further support.
The full extent of the damage is yet to be determined as communication lines and electricity have been disrupted.
“Although a full picture of the damage is still emerging, reports indicate that the situation in and around Freetown is extremely serious,” said Alex Carle, director of international programmes at the British Red Cross.
“At least a hundred houses have been affected, some of which have been completely submerged.
“We fear that as the landslide took place early in the morning, at around 6.30am local time, in an area where houses are often poorly constructed, these figures could become much higher still.
“The spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea following flooding is also a huge concern.”
Abdul Nasir, from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, described the devastation.
“In places, entire communities seem to have been washed away and whatever is left is covered in mud,” he said.
“Red Cross volunteers have been on site since this morning [14 Aug] and have been digging with their bare hands and whatever tools available to find survivors.
“They are also caring for and helping family members who are desperately waiting for news of their loved ones.”