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286 bodies recovered in Sierra Leone mudslide

Freetown: At least 286 bodies have been recovered from a devastating mudslide in Sierra Leone’s capital, officials said.

A total of 286 bodies were brought to a local hospital on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency quoted an official as saying. Head of Operation of the Sierra Leone police, Al Sheik Kamara, said many people were still buried under the rubble and rescue work was on to extricate more bodies.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma said emergency services were doing everything possible to tackle the current disaster. He said an emergency response centre had been set up in the town of Regent, worst hit by the tragedy.

So far, the government has not released an official death toll. Many of the victims were still asleep in their beds when disaster struck on Monday.

Another 3,000 people were estimated to have lost their homes. According to officials, continuous heavy rain was making the rescue operation difficult.

“The scene is quite messy. Most homes were destroyed and buried. And rain on and off is making rescue work difficult,” said one official.

Ishmeal Charles, a charity worker for the Healey Relief Foundation and Caritas Freetown, told the BBC that words could not do justice to the scale of the tragedy.

“You will see a huge number of people crying with those who have lost their family members,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to paint what the reality looks like, because it’s more scary and very sad and disastrous than anyone can be able to describe,” he said.

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