An enormous tree that towered over Sierra Leone’s capital for hundreds of years and symbolised freedom to its early residents has crashed down in a single day throughout a heavy rainstorm.
President Julius Maada Bio referred to as the toppling of the famed tree “an awesome loss to the nation” as crowds gathered to take a look at the wrecked trunk.
The “Cotton Tree” was crucial landmark within the west African nation which was based by freed US slaves.
It’s mentioned that once they arrived by boat within the late 1700s, they gathered below its branches to supply prayers earlier than shifting into their new residence.
The tree went on to seem on the nation’s banknotes and be celebrated in youngsters’s nursery rhymes.
“It was considered an emblem of liberty and freedom by early settlers,” the president wrote on Twitter.
“We’ve to see what we’re going to do to be sure that we hold the historical past of this tree right here,” he advised Reuters on the scene.
“I wish to have a chunk of this historical past wherever I discover myself – on the state home, the museum or metropolis corridor.”
Till the storm snapped its 70-metre-tall trunk close to the bottom, the kapok tree stood in the course of a roundabout in central Freetown, its highest branches reaching above the encompassing tower blocks.
Victor Tutu Rogers was one of many final folks to see the tree standing when he handed it at about 9.40pm on Wednesday because the rain and wind intensified.
“I dashed around the cotton tree on my approach from work as a result of I feared the branches may fall,” he mentioned.
“Shortly after that there was a heavy lightning and I heard a heavy bang – the sound of the tree falling behind me.”
On Thursday morning, diggers cleaned up the wreckage – a sprawling heap of damaged branches and vivid wooden newly uncovered to the air.
Close by buildings and vehicles appeared to have been broken through the fall though no accidents have been reported.
Freetown’s Chief Administrator, Festus Kallay, mentioned town held its annual thanksgiving below the landmark each November.
“The Freetown skyline will hardly be the identical once more.”
Australian Related Press