Rescue workers have uncovered nearly 400 bodies so far from a mudslide on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, its chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya told Reuters on Tuesday.
He said that he expected at least 500 bodies to be uncovered as the search continues. A national emergency has since been declared by the government.
The heavy flooding of Sunday evening into Monday that caused the deaths and extensive infrastructure damage is thought to be Africa’s worst in 20 years, and the country’s president has appealed for international help.
“And in the worst case there was a landslide which took away a whole section of the hill, just taking homes and families with it as well. So there have just been hundreds of bodies coming out of the dirt.
“Contamination is an issue we worry about here. Cholera is something the country has faced in the past, so we are trying to provide safe water and look after particularly the children who could be particularly vulnerable,” head of communications at UNICEF, John James said.
Some 600 people are unaccounted for and are feared dead The country is not even half way through the rainy season.