More than 300 dead, 700 missing after Sierra Leone mudslide

The death toll from heavy flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone increased to at least 300 dead and 700 missing, officials said Tuesday.

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A hillside collapsed on Monday during heavy rains in the mountain town of Regent, near Freetown. The Red Cross said its volunteers have so far rescued 71 people.

“In places, entire communities seem to have been washed away and whatever is left is covered in mud,” Abdul Nasir, program coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a statement.
The British Red Cross estimates the slide swept away about 3,000 homes in the West African nation, leaving many homeless.

Because of disruption of communication lines and electricity, the full extent of the damage still isn’t known.

“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 programs at the British Red Cross. “At least a hundred houses have been affected, some of which have been completely submerged.

The British organization and volunteers from the Sierra Leone Red Cross are assisting the government search and rescue operations.

Tuesday, the United Nations migration agency said it’s released $150,000 in emergency first-response aid.

The International Organization for Migration “is ready to work with Sierra Leone’s government in any capacity it can, to respond to this terrible event,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said.

By Allen Cone