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Sierra Leone declares mourning for over 400 mudslide victims

16th Aug 2017
Sierra Leone declares mourning for over 400 mudslide victims

By Alpha Kamara

 

DAKAR, Senegal: Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma on Tuesday declared seven days of mourning in honor of the victims of a devastating mudslide in the country’s capital that has left hundreds dead. 600 people are still missing in Freetown.

As of Tuesday evening, health officials at Sierra Leone’s Connaught Hospital said over 400 corpses had been collected from the rubble as a rescue mission continues.

Sinneh Kamara, assistant officer at the hospital’s mortuary, told Anadolu Agency the facility is overwhelmed.

“As of now, we have collected over 400 corpses. Our facility has been overstretched and more corpses are being brought in. Throughout my entire career, I have never witnessed a grave situation like this,” Kamara said by phone.

According to a statement from Sierra Leone’s government, the national mourning period will take place from August 16-22 to honor the victims of a mudslide early Monday in Freetown following heavy rains and flooding. Flags will also be flown at half-mast. The general public will also observe a minute of silence midday on August 17.

The victims have also been asked to identify their relatives at the mortuary ahead of a mass burial. Unidentified corpses will also be given a dignified burial, the government said.

Alpha Conde, president of Guinea and head of the African Union, arrived in Freetown late Tuesday to offer his sympathies to the government and people.

Israel has delivered enough food aid for 10,000 meals to Sierra Leone, according to its Foreign Ministry, becoming the first country to respond to the government’s call for support.

“We will work with the Sierra Leone government to provide more medical aid in the coming weeks,” Israel’s Ambassador to West Africa, Paul Hirshson, told Anadolu Agency.

The Commonwealth and the African Union also offered condolences to the people of Sierra Leone and promised to support the country.

[Photo: People remove the wreckage at Regent region of Freetown after landslide struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone on August 15, 2017. Photographer: Stringer/AA]

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