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Mass Burials for Sierra Leone mudslide victims

Mass Burials for Sierra Leone mudslide victims

Nearly half of the 400 people known to have died in a mudslide and flooding on the outskirts of the Sierra Leone capital Freetown have already been buried, health officials say.

The government said mass burials would be postponed until Thursday to allow relatives to identify victims and about 600 people are still missing following the disaster.

Although, the coordinator for the burial team, Mohamed Kamara, said that 320 people were buried on Tuesday afternoon in two graves at the cemetery because there was a high risk of disease outbreaks such as cholera, as corpses are lying out in the open in the heat.

President Ernest Bai Koroma has declared seven days of mourning while pleading for “urgent support”.

The burials involved people who had already been identified or whose bodies were badly decomposed, Freetown’s chief pathologist Dr Simeon Owizz Koroma said.

They have been taken to a mass grave in Waterloo known as the Ebola cemetery after the 2014 disease outbreak, which killed nearly 4,000 people in the country.

Volunteers said there were more bodies inside the mortuary that urgently needed to be buried because they had decomposed.

The dead included more than 100 children.

The Red Cross has warned it is a race against time to find survivors. The search is taking place using diggers and makeshift tools.

Some international aid for the thousands of people left homeless by the mudslide has begun to arrive in the country.

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