Between a decade-long civil war and a 2014 outbreak of Ebola that resulted in a humanitarian crisis, the West African country of Sierra Leone is no stranger to tragedy. But for a beleaguered people, the unprecedented carnage from floods and mudslides this week must seem like the last straw.
With some 400 bodies recovered so far, the dead are being buried in mass graves in the capital of Freetown, the New York Times reported. And hundreds more are still missing.
Some, like 30-year-old Thomas Benson, were dealt an almost incomprehensible blow. Benson lost nine of his relatives in the tragedy, finding his nephew, sister and uncle in a morgue crowded with hundreds of corpses.
The devastation is by no means over, either. A Unicef spokesman told the Times the agency had donated a thousand body bags to assist in providing a “dignified” burial process – even if the bodies wind up in mass graves. But the specter of disease looms large.
“The potential for infectious diseases like cholera is our biggest concern,” Unicef’s John James told the Times. “The water infrastructure has taken a big hit.”