“But it’s most disturbing that many children in their school uniforms were unfortunately fatally caught up in the landslide and many more are homeless, orphaned and will be without food and clothing for days to come. This certainly calls for immediate action”, CNN reports.
Save the Children staff member Ramatu Jalloh was near the scene as the tragedy unfolded.
“We were driving on the main road out of Freetown past Regent when a lady ran onto the road and started gesticulating wildly. She called out to another lady who had been riding a bike in front of us who, after a brief conversation, started crying and looked very upset,” she said.
“It was clear from their reactions that something terrible had happened. Soon afterward, another man ran towards our car. He was crying about the number of lives that had been lost.
“As we continued down the road we could see there was a serious issue. Tons of water was rushing across the road, splitting it in half. We contacted the Save the Children office immediately to tell them that something was seriously wrong.”
President Ernest Bai Koroma toured the ravaged Regent district on Tuesday. His spokesperson told CNN that social-welfare teams have been deployed to “ascertain exactly how many people are missing.”
He added that a Sierra Leonean and a Chinese construction company had provided heavy-duty excavation equipment to help the military looking for people under the mud and rubble.
Flooding is not unusual in the region, which is currently experiencing its rainy season.
But this year has been particularly wet, with Freetown receiving more than 27 inches of rain between July 1 and Aug. 13 — more than double the average of 11.8 inches, according to the US National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.