In the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown, more than 800 people had to leave their homes due to flooding in the Colbert neighborhood following a landslide and flooding.
At least eight people have been killed and hundreds more displaced in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown following a landslide and flooding caused by heavy rains that continued on Monday, relief workers said. Four men, a woman and a seven-year-old girl were killed on Sunday when mountainside buildings were submerged in a mudslide during torrential rains in the Looking Town area, the National News Agency reported. disaster management.
Two other men died in the Mount Aureol and Blackhall Road areas when barriers came down on the buildings where they were, the agency added.
More than 800 people had to leave their homes because of flooding in the Colbert district, agency spokesman Mohammed Bah told AFP.
“The landslide is due to the heavy rains, there is no doubt, but also to a combination of illegal activities,” he said. “People are cutting down trees and destroying the forest cover. The landslide is mainly a result of people building outside the designated areas,” he said.
Authorities have asked residents to evacuate the area of Looking Town damaged Sunday, a rock face threatening to collapse. President Julius Maada Bio attributed these calamities to climate change but also to deficient urban planning.
“We see with the abundant rainfall this month of August the impact and the consequence of warming and climate change,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday evening. “But years of poor urban planning and mismanagement of municipal resources contributed enormously to the floods,” he added.
Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, who visited the victims, warned that more extreme events should be expected because of climate change. “It’s something we all need to be aware of,” she said.
She pleaded for public awareness and the establishment, at the local level, of “fundamentals” so that the inhabitants stop cutting down trees or blocking water drainage routes. She cited a study from 2019 showing that 85% of buildings were unlicensed.
Sierra Leone, a tropical and poor country, is regularly affected by phenomena of floods and landslides which have affected hundreds of thousands of people and caused severe economic damage over the past twenty years, according to the World Bank.
It has just commemorated the tragedy of August 14, 2017. On that day, a section of mountain that dominates Freetown broke away after days of intense rainfall and muddy waves and huge blocks of stone washed away or submerged the houses of the Regent district below, leaving 1,141 dead and missing according to an official report.
This anniversary provided specialists and survivors with the opportunity to warn that the factors of a new disaster, such as deforestation, anarchic construction but also the lack of means of forecasting and warning, remain united according to them.