I first read the story of the mudslide and subsequent loss of life in Sierra Leone in an email I received from the Healey International Relief Foundation on whose board I sit. I receive a number of email updates throughout the year and also spend time on their web and Facebook pages (the links are in the article below). HIRF has been doing amazing work in Sierra Leone for a number of years, starting with the post civil war period, building up hospitals, clinics, schools for young boys and girls, centers for children mutilated during the war, and much more.
I had read nothing about this mudslide before receiving this email so I did forward it to a few people in the Vatican. The Pope responded yesterday with a telegram, and I added that message to the HIRF article.
As I was about to post this article, I learned of the Barcelona attack that has killed an unknown number of people and injured many more when a person driving a van plowed into a crowd in the busy, very popular tourist avenue, Las Ramblas. I am guessing we will have another papal telegram in coming hours.
MUDSLIDE KILLS HUNDREDS IN SIERRA LEONE
Post by: Vicki Middleton HIRF (Healey International Relief Foundation)
“It is indeed a sad day in Freetown.” These are the words of our in-country director, Ishmeal Charles, as he and others from Caritas-Freetown were on-site to aid the survivors from a deadly mudslide that occurred early Monday, August 14th. (photo from Youtube)
Local reports have the death toll from this horrific mudslide as high as 300 and nearly 3,000 families and children homeless. These numbers are expected to rise in the coming days as rescue and recovery efforts continue. The BBC reports that many may have been asleep when the mudslide occurred and 60 children are possibly among the dead.
Charles described the scene and his feelings,
The rain started since about 4am this morning. Now we have seen so many people losing their lives and houses.
My pain, my agony and tears are all over all our faces. So sad Sierra Leone is from one trouble to another. (photo Reuters)
Seeing so many people trying to protect their houses, old, young and children. To sad to be real.
We are out here in the field.
The rainy season in Sierra Leone lasts from June to August, with heaviest rains in August. The rains and inadequate drainage system often result in frequent flooding in Freetown during this time. In 2015, 10 people were killed by the floods and thousands left homeless.
Summarizing the situation Charles said, “It has never been this bad. I have lived here all my life, this is the worst I have ever seen in my lifetime.” He continued, “We are not able to describe well the terrible conditions.”
Click here to listen to Charles describe the situation. The interview starts at 18:28.
In the days and weeks ahead we will be working with our in-country partner Caritas-Freetown to help those who are suffering from this tragedy rebuild their lives. Click below on our Facebook and Twitter links to stay up-to-date on the situation in Sierra Leone and our efforts to help. http://hirf.net/aboutus/ and Facebook:
Pope Francis, through Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, send the following telegram to Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba of Freetown:
“Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time. He prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation. His Holiness likewise expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.”