Freetown, Aug 19 (IANS) The death toll in the mudslides and flooding in Sierra Leone has climbed to 467 and is expected to rise further, officials said.
About 20,000 people have been displaced by the mudslides, including 5,000 children, presidential spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay was quoted as saying by CNN.
The death toll includes those killed in mudslides on the outskirts of Freetown and fatalities from flash floods in other provinces, Deputy Health Minister Madina Rahman said.
The country must be prepared to battle cholera and malaria, Rahman said, in the wake of one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit Africa in recent years.
Some residents got skin infections from the water they had been washing in, and officials were putting in place plans for cholera prevention, she said.
“We are equipped to a point. We can’t do it alone,” she added.
Homes in the hilltop community of Regent were engulfed after a part of Sugar Loaf mountain, about 5 miles from Freetown, collapsed following heavy rain early on Monday. Many victims were asleep when the disaster struck.
Rescue workers said they were losing hope of finding bodies in the debris, with hundreds of people still unaccounted for. The city morgue at Connaught Hospital in Freetown was overwhelmed by the influx of bodies, the report said.
On Thursday, 413 people were laid to rest in a mass burial in the nearby town of Waterloo, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Sidie Yahya Tunis said. About a third of the dead were children, Tunis said.
Rahman, the health official, appealed for international support, saying the country can’t do it alone.
Meanwhile, authorities were preparing to evacuate other hillside areas amid fears of more landslides.
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