Sierra Leone devastating landslide near the capital Freetown is one of Africa’s worst flooding-related disasters in years occurred when the side of Mount Sugar Loaf collapsed after heavy rain, burying parts of Regent town and overwhelming relief efforts.
After three days of torrential rainfall, devastating floods and mudslides occurred in and around Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown.
Freetown, a densely populated and congested city occupied by about 1.2 million people at the time of the disaster, lies at or below sea level, and is flanked by heavily forested mountain ranges.
The number of confirmed deaths is 499; hundreds of others are missing and feared dead. More than 3,000 people were left homeless and hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed by the mudslides.
Occurring during a particularly wet rainy season, the disaster was exacerbated by the city’s situation at or below sea level, poor infrastructure, and drainage system.
Authorities buried 461 bodies in quickly-dug graves in the nearby Waterloo cemetery.
The threat of deadly landslides is growing in parts of West and central Africa as rainfall, deforestation and urban populations rise.
A mudflow or mud flow is a form of mass wasting involving “very rapid to extremely rapid surging flow” of debris that has become partially or fully liquified by the addition of significant amounts of water to the source material.
Mudflows contain a significant proportion of clay, which makes them more fluid than debris flows; thus, they are able to travel farther and across lower slope angles.
Both types are generally mixtures of various kinds of materials of different sizes, which are typically sorted by size upon deposition.