FREETOWN, May 25 (Xinhua) -- A cotton tree, which stood for hundreds of years in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, and was seen as a symbol of the city, was brought down by a heavy storm Wednesday night.
The cotton tree is believed to be the site of the first settlement of freed slaves in the late 18th century. It has long been regarded as a cultural and historical landmark, revered by both locals and visitors alike.
On Thursday morning, thousands of local residents came to mourn the death of the tree.
Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio said the tree "was regarded as a symbol of liberty and freedom by early settlers. We will have something at the same spot that bears testament to the great cotton tree's place in our history. All voices will be brought together for this."
"The world must achieve a sharp drop in global warming in the next eight years if the natural calamities we have seen recently across the globe are not to get worse. The fall of the Cotton Tree in Freetown should therefore reenergize our efforts to address climate change issues in Sierra Leone," United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone Babatunde Ahonsi said.