Seven LDS Members Killed in Sierra Leone Mudslide
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE
Seven Latter-day Saints are numbered among the hundreds who were killed in a massive mudslide in this West African nation.
More than 330 people died in the disaster August 14 that occurred in a rain-soaked sector on the outskirts of the capital city. Almost five acres of hillside collapsed, covering homes in a community that stretched across more than nine acres, according to a CNN report.
No missionaries were injured and all are accounted for, said Bruce Muir, the Church’s humanitarian response director.
No Church properties were impacted by the mudslide.
More than 3,000 people have been displaced by the recent disaster. Local Church leaders were still trying Thursday to assess the impact on the homes and properties of LDS families.
Almost 600 people were still missing. It’s unknown if any members are counted among that number.
The Church is preparing to deliver relief to the area, which remains vulnerable to additional landslides thanks to ongoing rainfall.
“Help is on the way,” said Muir, adding the Church is working with its partners in the humanitarian relief community to assess the situation and determine the best way to deliver aid.
The country is overwhelmed as it tries to respond from the fallout from Monday’s landslide, Sierra Leone’s Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Sidie Yahya Tunis told CNN.
“We are now busy evacuating people. We have mounted tents and shelters. … It is a race against time and the resources that are available,” he said. “At this point, more hands are needed on deck, both locally and internationally. The gravity is huge and the magnitude is just so much for this nation to handle. I pray that other countries will come in to assist.”
The first Mormon missionaries arrived in Sierra Leone in 1988. Today, there are more than 17,000 members serving in 55 congregations, according to MormonNewsroom.org.
The country is part of the Africa West Area.