More than 400 bodies have now been recovered from the mudslides in Sierra Leone. The recovery efforts continued Friday amid the threat of further disaster. Workers hope to find more survivors, but the Red Cross said chances get smaller every day.
Government and international air workers are struggling to find survivors after a mudslide struck the capital city of Freetown in Sierra Leone.
Roughly 600 people are still missing at the site the disaster at Mount Sugar Loaf, officials say.
Idalia Amaya, the deputy head of programs and the emergency response coordinator for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Freetown, said that the biggest difficulty they are facing now is the rain.
“The timing of this is really horrible because every day it is raining and it will continue through the end of the month,” she told NPR. “It makes the emergency response slower.”
Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Sidie Yahya Tunis told CNN that more rain is expected to fall in the country over the next few days, which increases the chances of a new landslide.
Authorities have already evacuated people around the site of the landslide.
Amaya said that officials are also trying to deal with the new reports of people being stuck in their houses underneath the mudslide.
“We are getting reports that family members are receiving text messages and calls from people trapped in the mud. They are still inside their homes that were swept away by the mudslide. Attempts to reach them are hampered because there is not enough equipment to dig people out, and the continued rain makes the operation dangerous for the rescuers.”
Officials reported that the death toll has climbed to 331 and over 9,000 people were injured in the mudslide.
Flooding is very common in this area. The US National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center reported that this year Freetown received more than 27 inches of rain between July 1 and Aug. 13, more than double the average of 11.8 inches.