A week of national mourning commenced on Wednesday in Sierra Leone as rescue workers ramped up their search for victims of the mudslide that ravaged a town outside of Freetown on Monday morning.
A coroner, Seneh Dumbuya, told Reuters that at least 400 bodies have been recovered, while the Red Cross estimated that over 600 are still missing. Among the dead are 109 children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
On Tuesday, 150 bodies were buried.
“As the search continues, we have collected nearly 400 bodies, but we anticipate more than 500,” the coroner said.
Red Cross program coordinator Abdul Nasir said that some 9,000 people have been affected by the disaster.
The tragedy began in the early hours of Monday in the mountainous town of Regent when heavy rains caused a hillside to collapse, burying at least one hundred homes.
President Ernest Bai Koroma subsequently declared a state of emergency and urged survivors to evacuate Regent.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is assessing the possibility of another mudslide, the Guardian UK reports.
“There’s a risk of a second landslide,” Linnea Van Wagenen, a UN worker in Sierra Leone said. “We’re not sure how this massive landslide has affected the ground around it.”
There are also fears that the country could face a cholera outbreak due to the contaminated water flooding the streets and exposure to dead bodies, deputy health minister Madina Rahman said.
An aid worker told the Guardian UK that the small West African country’s public health system is still recovering from the Ebola outbreak which left 4,000 dead from 2014-2016.