Six die as Sierra Leone bridge collapses

Inter5Freetown — Rescuers said on Monday they had called off the search for survivors after a decades-old bridge collapsed in heavy rain in the capital of Sierra Leone, killing six people.The King Jimmy crossing, which connects the west of Freetown with the city centre, came down around 04:00 on Friday.

Rescue workers, military officers and policemen pulled six bodies from the rubble and scoured the accident site for survivors as torrential rain continued to lash the city over the weekend.

Residents told AFP dozens of homeless youngsters usually live under the bridge in the rundown area, sparking fears they were buried when the structure gave way.

But no more bodies have been discovered and there is “little hope of finding any more survivors”, said Sammy Bangura, a civilian member of one of the search teams.

Hundreds of mourners, including Vice-President Sam Sumana, attended a funeral for the victims on Sunday, Sierra Leone Television (SLTV) reported.

Survivors recalled the the horror of the collapse after the rescue wound up.
“I was sitting underneath the bridge with ten other youths when it caved in. I managed to surface from the debris,” Mohamed Dumbuya told a group of reporters near the wreckage.

The bridge is one of the major crossings in central Freetown. It is named after a chief who led a local tribe around the 1700s and is located near a vibrant riverside market from where thousands of people were trafficked as slaves to the Americas in the 18th century.

The collapse left around 5 000 residents without electricity and efforts are being made to repair their supply, an official from the state power company said. — AFP

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