The Queen has sent a message of sympathy to President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, expressing her sadness following the devastating mudslides and flooding that have killed more than 300 people in the country's capital. The monarch, 91, wrote: "Prince Philip and I were deeply saddened to learn of the terrible flooding and landslides in Freetown that have led to the deaths of so many people. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and those whose homes and livelihoods have been affected. Elizabeth R."
The Queen expressed her sadness in a statement
Her son Prince Charles, 68, also sent a message on behalf of himself and the Duchess of Cornwall, echoing the Queen's sentiments. "My wife and I were so deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the dreadful loss of life and devastation caused by the recent flooding and mudslide in Freetown and we wanted you to know just how much our hearts go out to all those who have been so cruelly bereaved or injured, or whose homes have been destroyed. However inadequate this may be, I can only assure you that Sierra Leone is very much in our thoughts and prayers."
President Koroma visits a site of the mudslides
Prince Charles visited Sierra Leone in 2006 to launch a project to help regenerate one of the most disadvantaged areas of the capital, Freetown. He also held a private meeting with President Koroma in London in 2009, at a conference devoted to the West African country.
Authorities have said more than 300 people – including 100 children – have died from the mudslides and flooding, many of whom were trapped under tons of mud as they slept. The poor drainage systems in the poorest areas of the city have exacerbated the flooding during the rainy season. The Red Cross estimates 600 people remain missing; the death toll is expected to rise. President Koroma has declared seven days of mourning and reportedly appealed for support from other nations.