Five killed as boulder crushes house in Sierra Leone capital

FREETOWN Sun May 4, 2014 3:55pm EDT

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FREETOWN (Reuters) - Five people, including two children, were killed on Sunday when a boulder dislodged by heavy rains crushed a house in a poor area of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, witnesses said.

Residents of the Grey Bush neighborhood of the hilly, coastal city said the incident happened around 8 a.m. during a seasonal downpour.

Among the dead were a 10-year-old girl and a 17-year-old citizen of neighboring Guinea, who was visiting Freetown on holiday.

Local residents began digging out the victims as emergency personnel were slow to arrive.

"We had to make do with our bare hands and the shovels and pick axes we could lay hands on," youth organizer Yusufu Bendu told Reuters. "We brought out alive one of the people, but he died because it took us long to get any assistance."

The West African nation is entering its annual rainy season and landslides are commonplace in Freetown, where roads and infrastructure are often poorly maintained.

Eight homeless people were killed in August when the bridge they were sleeping under collapsed in a landslide caused by heavy rains.

(Reporting by Umaru Fofana; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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