On the evening of the 14th August, mudslides triggered by three days of heavy rains poured in and around the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. The most severe mudslides occurred in the coastal suburb of Racecourse on the city’s eastern edge, as well as in Regent and Lumley where thousands of makeshift settlements are home to the city’s poorest communities. Torrential rains have led to a series of significant floods and mudslides in several areas of Freetown.
According to Freetown Mayor, rescue workers have recovered 270 bodies so far mainly from the Regent neighbourhood where the mudslides happened. As rescue operations are still ongoing, the death toll is expected to rise. An estimated 3,000 or more people are believed to have lost their homes and are in immediate need of emergency assistance and shelter according to Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS).
Communication lines and electricity have been disrupted in some parts of the capital, and there has been extensive damage to roads, infrastructure and houses. In addition, rescue teams lack the right equipment and are facing difficult conditions with large amounts of mud and debris (UNOCHA, 15 August 2017).