Sierra Leone's capital Freetown has witnessed a devastating mudslide and flooding that claimed over 400 lives. Muddy water and debris continue to flow through the streets of Freetown but much of the damage can be attributed to a massive mudslide that struck early Monday morning.
The government has not given a death toll from the disaster. The Red Cross said on Friday that more than 600 people are still missing, and a search continues for corpses buried in the mud.
There are reports that many people are still alive but trapped in their homes underneath the mud. Large scale burials have begun amid rainy weather and the threat of further mudslides.
Rescue officials have warned that the chances of finding survivors are getting smaller every day. Forecasters have also predicted the more rain which will aggravate the situation and will increase problems in rescue operations.
Mourners were gathered to pay respects at a mass burial on Thursday afternoon as the search operation is continuing.
Initially, the mass burial planned for Wednesday but government allow families to identify their loved ones.
"While flooding is a natural disaster, the scale of the human tragedy in Freetown is, sadly, very much man-made," said Makmid Kamara, the organization's deputy director of global Issues, said right group Amnesty International.
The country's President, Ernest Bai Koroma, and other dignitaries including Libyan President Ellen Johnson sirleaf were expected to attend the ceremony.
The city morgue at the Connaught Hospital has been overwhelmed by the influx of victims in what is one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit Africa in recent years. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people have also been displaced, Abu Bakarr, spokesman for the Red Cross in Sierra Leone, told CNN on Tuesday.
Flooding is not unusual in the region, which is experiencing its rainy season.But this year has been particularly wet, with Freetown receiving more than 27 inches of rain between July 1 and August 13 -more than double the average of 11.8 inches, according to the US National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center.