Sierra Leone’s iconic ‘cotton tree’ has been devastated by storms

The Sierra Leone government said on Thursday that a centuries-old tower that was once a historic icon in Sierra Leone fell during a rainstorm in the capital, Freetown.

The 70-meter (230-foot) tall Ceiba pentandra – affectionately known as the “cotton tree” by Sierra Leones – lost all of its branches Wednesday night, leaving only the base of the giant trunk, a government statement said. , quoting “heavy rain and wind”.

He estimated the tree to be about 400 years old. “All Sierra Leones will reflect on the loss of such a prestigious national symbol as the Cotton Tree.” said President Julius Maada Bio

”For centuries it has been a proud symbol of our nation, a symbol of a nation that has grown to provide shelter to many.” According to legend, slaves who won their freedom fighting on the British side in the American Revolutionary War prayed under a tree when they arrived in West Africa.

It adorns banknotes and stamps, was visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1961 and has remained a landmark ever since. Freetown residents continue to pray under the tree, which in recent decades has risen above a busy roundabout near the National Museum, Central Post Office and the nation’s supreme court.

On Thursday morning, hundreds of residents gathered around the site to mourn.
Gibrilla Sesay, a 34-year-old finance worker, said: “I am shocked and heartbroken to see our dear Freetown Cotton Tree destroyed this morning on my way to work.

Government said no injuries happened

A reporter said police and troops were deployed around the area on Thursday, and the government announced a cleanup effort was underway. Sierra Leone has suffered a number of weather-related disasters in recent years.
In 2017, more than 1,100 people were killed in a landslide in the capital when part of the mountain collapsed onto informal settlements.

Eight others were killed in a landslide last August.

According to the National Disaster Management Agency, at least 15 people died in floods in early May.
The rainy season in Sierra Leone rainy season usually start from May to October.

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