At least 312 people are believed to have been killed, and more than 1,000 others affected, following a large mudslide near Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
The hillside collapsed following heavy rain in Regent, a mountainous town 15 miles east of the capital, Freetown. Hundreds of people were trapped by the mud, with many feared to have been killed beneath the rubble.
Death tolls are currently unconfirmed, although the Red Cross have reported that 312 people have been killed and more than 1,000 affected. Disaster officials in Sierra Leone have estimated 2,000 people have been left homeless.
Relatives and rescue workers have continued to dig through the mud in the search of both survivors and remains, while local officials report that the morgues in the nearby capital are now overflowing.
Sierra Leone’s vice president Victor Foh told Reuters that a number of the buildings in the area affected had been erected illegally.
“It is likely that hundreds are lying dead underneath the rubble,” he added, speaking from the scene of the mudslide.
Kelfa Kargbo, Sierra Leone country director for the organisation Street Child, which is assisting with the recovery, said the mudslide started at 3am when a heavy downpour covered Freetown, causing a shift in the hillside that brought down all the houses built along the side of the hill in Regent.
“It had a domino effect for a distance of about two miles. The mud came down burying people alive, bringing down houses, bringing down big buildings.”
Throughout Monday, searches for bodies were carried out by residents, emergency workers and the military. Street Child understands that no survivors have been dug up since 7am in the morning.
Kargbo told reporters, “Construction companies have brought in their power tillers to help dig up bodies. There’s no equipment. This is unprecedented and Sierra Leone was ill-prepared for such a catastrophe.”