Christians Rushing to Help as 400 Killed, Hundreds Missing in 'Worst Ever' Sierra Leone Mudslide

(Photo: Sierra Leone Red Cross/Handout via REUTERS)Rescue workers search for survivors after a mudslide in the Mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone, August 14, 2017.

Christian and other humanitarian groups are rushing to help in what some have called the "worst ever" mudslide devastation in Sierra Leone, which has left close to 400 people dead, with another 600 missing.

"I drove around Freetown yesterday and saw several houses had disappeared, roads completely gone. On one bridge I saw two people who were already dead being pulled out of the water. In just one of the church communities we work with, 60 people have died and 300 have lost their homes. One of the churches was hit by the mudslide," said Gaston Slanwa, Tearfund's country representative for Sierra Leone, according to The Guardian.

Reuters reported that morgues are struggling to "find space for all the dead," dealing with the catastrophic consequences of a mountainside collapsing in the town of Regent on Monday morning.

"Our problem here is space. We are trying to separate, quantify, and examine quickly and then we will issue death certificates before the burial," said Owiz Koroma, head of the central morgue at Freetown.

President Ernest Bai Koroma has ordered all residents of Regent and other flooded areas around Freetown to evacuate immediately, while chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya shared his fears that the death toll will climb to over 500.

Koroma fought back tears when he toured Regent on Monday, BBC News reported.

"Entire communities have been wiped out. We need urgent support now," the president said.

"This tragedy of great magnitude has once again challenged us to come together, to stand by each other and to help one another." 

Issatu Koroma, whose son and nephew are missing in the mudslide, told reporters:

"Everything is gone. We've lost everything — our house, everything. The mud came down with the water so fast and my son did not escape. We found him lying in the mud. He was just a boy. They took his body with the others to I don't know where. God help Sierra Leone. Why are we cursed? What are we supposed to do now, with nothing?"

James Chfwelu, national director of Christian charity World Vision in Sierra Leone, told Premier that the devastation has been "the worst that this country has seen."

"First of all we want to be real and just say that this is painful, this is something that was unexpected but I think the word of hope to those that have survived is that even if they are in this desperate situation, either injured, orphaned or homeless, they are much better off than those that actually died because it was so devastating and so many lives were lost," Chfwelu said.

"Those that have survived, we are making them look forward to God with hope instead of worrying about the situation much more."

Tearfund's Slanwa called on Christians to pray.

"Please pray for God's comfort for the hundreds of families affected, for our church partners who are working tirelessly to help local community members and for improved access to allow us to reach those are cut off and in desperate need," he urged.

Sierra Red Cross Society spokesman Abu Bakarr Tarawallie warned that at least 3,000 people were made homeless, and are in need of shelter, medical assistance and food.

"We are also fearful of outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and typhoid," Tarawallie said. "We can only hope that this does not happen."

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