Sierra Leone declares a week of national mourning after mudslide

Aid workers fear decomposing bodies left out in heat may spark health crisis

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Sierra Leone declares a week of national mourning after mudslide

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A minute of silence has been held in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown in honour of the hundreds of people killed in Monday’s devastating mudslide on the outskirts of the city.

Nearly 400 people are thought to have died but aid workers believe many more bodies are trapped in mud and rubble.

Sunil Saigal is the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Sierra Leone: “We now believe that very sadly the rescue part will come to an end as the hope of finding further survivors diminishes, but of course it remains a priority to recover the remains of those who perished in the landslide but also equally to help survivors and help the community.”

For many people, what help came in the wake of Monday’s landslide was too little or too late. Sayo Jalloh lost 17 members of her family including her son and brother.
“Where are the tractors. My son is lying down there beneath the mud and he just sat the West African Secondary School Examination… now I do not want to see this place,” she cried.

Emergency response teams have raced to dig out survivors and dispose of bodies but authorities in the extreme poverty-stricken West African state are clearly struggling to cope. The central morgue is overwhelmed sparking fears of a health crisis caused by decomposing bodies left out in the warm, fetid climate.