Several Dead as Severe Floods Hit Sierra Leone Capital

At least seven people have died with hundreds made homeless as swathes of Sierra Leone's capital were submerged by massive flooding after hours of torrential rain, emergency management officials said Thursday.

Residents described how waters destroyed their homes, swept away household goods and damaged vehicles as Freetown, an overcrowded city of 1.2 million, was pounded overnight. 

"The seven corpses were brought in intermittently overnight but we know that more will come," Amara Kamara, a mortuary attendant at the city's main Connaught Hospital, told AFP.

"The corpses include two kids aged three-and-a-half and four, as well as a 10-year-old girl."

It rains six months of the year in Freetown, one of the world's wettest cities, and putrid water from its populated slopes inundate its coastal slums every summer bringing cholera, dysentery and respiratory infections.

At least 20 neighborhoods were flooded by the five-hour storm, according to a statement from the presidency, which said torrential monsoon rain was expected to continue for at least six days.

Police and soldiers were deployed to the worst-hit areas to maintain law and order, it said, while residents were being urged to stay at home.

A doctor told AFP rainwater had inundated six wards in the Connaught, the country's largest hospital, forcing patients to be moved to makeshift treatment areas. 

"We were able to contain the situation as we admitted over 100 people for abrasions, shock and hypothermia, while about 40 were treated and discharged," a separate medical source told AFP. 

Mohamed Sillah, a worker at the Brookfields National Stadium, said over 600 people had sought refuge by 7:30 am (0730 GMT). 

The 45,000-capacity Brookfields, home to the national football team, is one of two Freetown sports grounds where emergency services were telling people to seek refuge. 

Sillah said emergency workers were distributing drinks, bread and foam mattresses with women and children being prioritized.

Source: Agence France Presse

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