Rescue workers have unearthed 499 dead bodies since last week’s devastating landslide near the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, the city’s chief coroner told Reuters on Sunday.
One of Africa’s worst flooding-related disasters in years occurred when the side of Mount Sugar Loaf collapsed on Monday after heavy rain, burying parts of Regent town and overwhelming relief efforts in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Authorities this week buried 461 bodies in quickly-dug graves in the nearby Waterloo cemetery, near the site of a mass burial for victims of the Ebola crisis that killed 4,000 people in the former British colony between 2014 and 2016.
Thirty-eight more bodies were found on Sunday, said chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya, bringing the official death toll to 499. They were being sent for immediate burial, he said.
The Red Cross said on Friday that over 600 are still missing.
An increasingly desperate search continued on Sunday on the steep hillside under the wet red mud, as the likelihood of finding survivors was all but extinguished. (Reuters)
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Rescue workers on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, are rushing to find survivors a day after heavy rains caused a mountainside to partially collapse Monday morning, engulfing homes and killing hundreds.
The morgue in Freetown has stated that nearly 400 bodies have been brought there, according to Reuters and a representative from the Red Cross. The death toll in the West African nation is likely to rise — the Red Cross says hundreds more people remain unaccounted for.
“I have never seen anything like it. … A river of mud came out of nowhere and swallowed entire communities, just wiped them away,” Abdul Nasir, program coordinator of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a statement. “We are racing against time, more flooding and the risk of disease to help these affected communities survive and cope with their loss.”
Lansana Sesay gets help with a cigarette from his grandson, Joseph, at a special amputee camp on November 3, 1999 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Rebels dragged him outside his house and amputated both arms during Sierra Leone’s civil war. (Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty Images)