Hundreds missing in Sierra Leone mudslides likely dead

The number of victims from flooding and mudslides that hit Sierra Leone’s capital early Monday now exceeds 450.

As relief efforts continue in Freetown, authorities say most, if not all, the hundreds of people missing are dead.

The number of missing could go higher than 600, according to Sierra Leone’s deputy minister of information and communications, Cornelius Deveaux.

Satellite images and census figures are being used to calculate a more accurate human toll.

Rescue officials have warned that the chances of finding survivors “are getting smaller every day.”

AFP_RO0PK

Widow Fatoumata Dioumbouya speaks to journalists about the loss of her husband in Freetown, following heavy rains, flooding and mudslides which have claimed more than 450 lives and left hundreds missing. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)

Large-scale-burials that began this week amid rainy weather continued amid the threat of further mudslides.

The government of the impoverished West African nation in recent days has warned residents to evacuate a mountainside where a large crack has opened. Authorities have told local media that thousands of people live in areas at risk, and the main focus is making sure they leave before further disaster.

The government plans to relocate those affected to temporary, and eventually permanent, shelters.

Deveaux said the government was mindful of the possible outbreak of health emergencies. Aid groups have been providing water filters, buckets, water storage tanks, soap and hygiene materials.

A plane was expected to arrive at the Lungi International Airport on Saturday with relief items, including medical help.

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