At least 600 people are still missing following a mudslide and flooding that devastated parts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, a spokesman for the president has told the BBC.
President Ernest Bai Koroma earlier pleaded for “urgent support”, saying entire communities had been wiped out. Nearly 400 people are confirmed dead after a mudslide in the Regent area and floods elsewhere in Freetown on Monday. The Red Cross has warned it is a race against time to find survivors.
A mass burial of victims is planned on Wednesday to free up space in mortuaries. Presidential spokesman Abdulai Baraytay told the BBC that bodies were still being pulled from the mud and rubble.
The UN said its teams in Sierra Leone had mobilized and were supporting rescue efforts.
“Contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Flooding is not unusual in Sierra Leone, where unsafe housing in makeshift settlements can be swept away by heavy rains. The rains often hit areas in and around Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of more than one million people.