Freetown, Sierra Leone — Churches across Sierra Leone held special services Sunday (Aug. 20) in memory of those killed in mudslides and flooding earlier last week, as hospital officials announced the toll had risen to nearly 500 bodies collected, according to CBS News. On August 14 a mudslide killed hundreds on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown.
More than 600 people remain missing and rescue officials have warned that the chances of finding survivors are decreasing each day. The death toll earlier stood at 450.
Reuters news agency put the death toll to 461.
The Inter-Religious Council called for the services to be held Sunday in honor of the deceased, as special prayers and recitals were offered in mosques Friday and Sunday.
The preacher at Buxton Memorial Methodist Church in Freetown, the capital, offered a sermon that looked at mankind’s contribution to the disaster, as a gospel band rendered the song “Papa God Sorry for Salone (Sierra Leone).”
Large-scale-burials have taken place all this week amid rainy weather that threatened further mudslides. Volunteers have been digging with pickaxes and, at times, only their hands.
The government of the impoverished West African nation in recent days has warned residents to evacuate a mountainside where a large crack has opened. Thousands of people live in areas at risk and the main focus is making sure they leave before further disaster, authorities have told local media.
Many of the impoverished areas of Sierra Leone’s capital are close to sea level and have poor drainage systems, exacerbating flooding during the rainy season. Freetown also is plagued by unregulated building of large residential houses in hilltop areas.
Foreign aid from the rest of the world is being sent to Freetown, the nation’s capital. And right now, they can use all the aid they can get. This is such a gut-wrenching tragedy that one can’t help but wonder why we aren’t hearing more about it. Why isn’t more being done? Nearly 500 lives have been lost.
Charlottesville was horrible, Barcelona too. These tragedies have been widely covered. Yet, Sierra Leone needs the world’s help and we’re barely hearing about it. Despite lack of coverage from the mainstream media, we must keep our African brothers and sisters in our thoughts and prayers doing what we can to help.
Global Giving is one website you can use to help. So far they have only raised $30,000 of their $500,000 goal. If you can be a blessing, do.