The Latest: Death toll up to 450 in Sierra Leone mudslides
Aug. 18, 2017
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — The Latest on deadly mudslides in Sierra Leone (all times local):
Authorities in Sierra Leone now say up to 450 bodies have been recovered following this week's torrential mudslides.
Aid officials have estimated that at least 600 others are still missing four days after heavy storm caused the disaster.
Dr. Simeon Owiss Koroma, the government's chief consultant forensic pathologist, said Friday afternoon that up to 450 bodies now have been recovered.
Those that can be identified are being returned to loved ones for burial, but others too badly decomposed have been taken to a cemetery where Ebola victims were laid to rest in 2014 and 2015.
Koroma said forensic experts from Spain were to arrive late Friday to aid with recovery efforts in Freetown.
The Red Cross says they still hope to find survivors of Monday's deadly mudslides and flooding in Sierra Leone's capital "but the chances are getting smaller every day."
Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, tells reporters in Geneva that they are still in the "critical emergency phase" of the response.
The United Nations says 409 bodies have been removed from the rubble. More than 600 are still missing.
The Red Cross says shelter, safe water and food and proper sanitation are urgent needs now.
Four days after the tragedy, the United Nations is deploying a U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. A spokesman says Sierra Leone's government requested aid two days after the catastrophe and that the U.N. cannot deploy until national authorities allow it.
The head of the Red Cross organization that focuses on natural disasters is predicting that the death toll will rise from flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone's capital.
Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, says "the death toll is climbing by the day" from the disaster Monday in Freetown.
The United Nations says 409 bodies have been removed from the rubble.
The IFRC chief told reporters in Geneva that "what they are facing today is way beyond the capacity of the government alone."
Britain says it is providing 5 million pounds ($6.4 million) in emergency aid to victims of flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel says "the international community must follow our lead" to save lives in the impoverished West African nation. The country is a former British colony.
More than 400 people have died and an estimated 600 are missing.
An estimated 3,000 people are now homeless in the capital, Freetown, and surrounding communities. The devastation comes as Sierra Leone recovers from the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak that killed thousands.
More rain forecast is for the coming week and further mudslides are a threat.
The United Nations says the death toll from Sierra Leone's mudslides is now above 400.
The U.N. humanitarian agency says 409 bodies have been found after flooding and mudslides in the West African nation's capital of Freetown on Monday morning.
Burials have begun as an estimated 600 people remain missing.
People continue to search through tons of mud and debris amid the threat of further mudslides.
The government has warned residents to evacuate a mountainside where a large crack has opened.
Rainfall remains in the forecast for the coming days, slowing recovery efforts.
Thousands of people have lost their homes. Some critics accuse the government of not learning from past disasters.
Many poor areas are near sea level and lack good drainage. The capital also is plagued by unregulated construction.