Jean-Jacques Cornish

Mass burials in Sierra Leone to make space in mortuaries after deadly mudslide

Mass burials are taking place in Sierra Leone today after Monday’s deadly mudslide that President Ernest Bai Koroma says removed entire communities.

Local mortuaries have been totally overwhelmed by the more than 400 bodies recovered so far.  A further 1 500 people are missing.

After the Ebola outbreak three years ago, Sierra Leoneans have become accustomed to burying large numbers of their people who died tragically.

They’re saying the victims of the mudslide eclipse those who died of the deadly virus.

Today’s mass burials are necessitated to free up space in the mortuaries.

A special reception area has been set at Regency, 25kms east of Freetown, which was hardest hit by the collapsing hill overlooking it.

Hospitals are also inundated with badly injured survivors.

The international help that President Ernest Bai Koroma has called for cannot come soon enough.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.