The disastrous mudslides in Sierra Leone this month are one of the worst natural disasters to ever take place in Africa. At least 500 people are thought to be dead and more than 800 people are still missing. Thousands have been left homeless and displaced. The Daily Vox team rounds up the situation more than a week after the disaster.
In mid-August, Sierra Leone experienced torrential rains which overwhelmed Freetown’s sewage system and triggered catastrophic landslides. The mountain town of Regent, situated on the outskirts of the capital, was the worst affected. People living in informal settlements on Regent’s steep hillsides were killed in their homes. Last Monday, an entire side of Mount Sugar Loaf collapsed, killing hundreds.
Some say the disaster was man made and that experts had warned against construction on the unstable hillsides.
Persistent bad weather has slowed rescue and relief efforts. The morgue at Freetown’s Connaught Hospital has been overwhelmed with dead bodies. Many of these have begun to decompose and have become unidentifiable. The disaster also wiped out entire families, leaving no one to claim the dead.
The South African government has donated R8 million to Sierra Leone to help with the relief efforts. International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has urged South African citizens to donate money to relief efforts. Government had planned to send a search, rescue and recovery team to help efforts. This was abandoned after Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma suspended rescue efforts due to the many difficulties they faced.
Israel, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Guinea, Senegal, Liberia, Morocco and Ivory Coast have all sent aid to the West African country. The African Union has promised its support.
Banker and philanthropist Tony Elumelu donated $500 000 (over R6.5-million) to relief efforts on Wednesday during a visit to Sierra Leone. He called on others to donate and for more media attention to be brought to Sierra Leone
All lives whether on the African continent or elsewhere are the same and shd attract the same media attention & human sympathy @TheEconomist
— Tony O. Elumelu, CON (@TonyOElumelu) August 23, 2017
The Sierra Leone government is expected to supply relief to survivors, many of them orphaned children, and find homes for them. The site where the mudslide took place is to be turned into a memorial.