Sierra Leone’s symbolic Cotton Tree falls during storm in Freetown

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A centuries-old, towering histrion that served arsenic a historical awesome successful Sierra Leone has been felled during a tempest successful the capital, Freetown, the authorities said connected Thursday.

The 70-metre (230-ft) Ceiba pentandra – lovingly known by Sierra Leoneans arsenic Cotton Tree – mislaid each of its branches precocious connected Wednesday with lone the basal of its tremendous trunk inactive standing, a authorities connection said, citing “torrential rains and precocious winds”. It estimated the histrion to beryllium astir 400 years old.

“All Sierra Leoneans volition intermission for thought astatine the nonaccomplishment of specified a prestigious nationalist awesome arsenic Cotton Tree,” the president, Julius Maada Bio, said. “For centuries it has been a arrogant emblem of our nation, a awesome of a federation that has grown to supply structure for many.”

According to legend, formerly enslaved radical who won their state warring connected the British broadside of the American warfare of independency prayed nether the histrion erstwhile they arrived successful West Africa.

The histrion adorned slope notes and stamps, was visited by Queen Elizabeth II successful 1961, and had remained a landmark ever since.

Freetown residents continued to commune beneath the tree, which successful caller decades towered implicit a engaged roundabout adjacent the nationalist museum, the cardinal station bureau and the country’s highest court.

The immense  histrion   fell aft  a dense  rainstorm – night-time representation  with branches and leaves inactive  successful  place
The immense histrion fell aft a dense rainstorm. Photograph: Umaru Fofana/Reuters

On Thursday morning, astir a 100 residents gathered astir the tract successful mourning.

“I’m shocked and heartbroken to spot our beloved Freetown Cotton Tree destroyed this greeting connected my mode to work,” Gibrilla Sesay, a 34-year-old concern worker, told AFP.

There were nary reports of injuries, the authorities said.

The constabulary and subject were deployed astir the country connected Thursday, an AFP newsman said, and the authorities announced a clean-up effort was nether way.

Sierra Leone has suffered respective climate-related disasters successful caller years. In 2017, much than 1,100 radical were killed successful a mudslide successful the capital erstwhile portion of a upland collapsed connected to informal settlements. Another 8 radical were killed successful a landslide past August.

At slightest 15 radical died successful flooding earlier successful May, according to the nationalist catastrophe absorption agency.

Sierra Leone’s rainy play typically lasts from May to October.

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