No fewer than 300 bodies have been recovered so far from a mudslide that hit the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, Monday,the Mayor said on Tuesday.
Freetown Mayor, Sam Gibson, told reporters that rescue operations continue in the town of Regent where the mudslide happened on Monday morning.
This is as the country is prepared to give the dead a mass burial, reports said on Tuesday
Vice President of Sierra Leone Victor Foh said on Monday that it was likely that hundreds were lying dead underneath the rubble.
Foh said at the scene of the mudslide in the mountain town of Regent that a number of illegal buildings had been erected in the area.
“The disaster is so serious that I myself feel broken,” he added.
“We’re trying to cordon (off) the area (and) evacuate the people.”
The mudslide happened in the early morning in Regent, where dozens of houses were submerged after a night of heavy rain.
The Government is expected to hold mass burials on Tuesday for the victims of the devastating mudslide which had claimed scores of lives, sources close to the government said.
It is unclear whether the mass burial is meant to free up space for more bodies in the central morgue, but Sulaiman Zainu Parker, environment officer at the Freetown City Council, said the disaster had killed some entire families and there is nobody to identify them.
Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma was in the disaster-hit area Tuesday morning and communicated with rescue teams on disaster relief.
Witnesses said the President looked grief-stricken.
Koroma said in an address broadcast on television late Monday that an emergency response centre had been set up in the town of Regent, which is worst hit.
An official in charge at the Connaught Hospital’s mortuary said on Tuesday, in Kamara said a total of 280 bodies had been brought to the facility, while the ambulance has just left to collect six more bodies that were discovered on Tuesday morning.
At present, mortuary staff are busy placing corpses in body bags, reports say.
The number of survivors still remains unknown, but sources at the Connaught said about 20 survivors with severe injuries are currently responding to treatment.
Head of Operations of the Sierra Leone Police, Al-Sheik Kamara, said many people were still buried under the rubble and that excavators were removing debris to discover more bodies.