A mudslide killed more than 300 people on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown on Monday, sweeping away homes and leaving residents desperate for news of missing family members.
The Red Cross said at least 205 bodies had been taken to the central morgue in Freetown. Police and military personnel were at the scene in the mountain town of Regent searching for people trapped in the debris.
Many people living at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf were asleep when the mountainside collapsed, burying dozens of houses, including two-storey buildings, witnesses said.
Standing in the rain, residents sobbed as they mourned family members and waited for news of those missing. Adama Kamara wept as she described a failed attempt to rescue her 7-week-old child.
The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered, Red Cross spokesman Abu Bakarr Tarawallie said. Vice President Victor Foh told Reuters at the scene: “It is likely that hundreds are lying dead underneath the rubble.”
He said a number of illegal buildings had been erected in the area. “The disaster is so serious that I myself feel broken,” he said. “We’re trying to cordon the area. Evacuate the people.”