A mudslide killed more than 200 people on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown on Monday, sweeping away homes and leaving residents desperate for news of missing family members.

The Red Cross said at least 205 bodies had been taken to the central morgue in Freetown. Police and military personnel were at the scene in the mountain town of Regent searching for people trapped in the debris.

Many people living at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf were asleep when the mountainside collapsed, burying dozens of houses, including two-storey buildings, witnesses said.

Mudslides and floods are fairly common during the rainy season in West Africa, where deforestation and poor town planning have put residents at risk.

The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered, Red Cross spokesperson Abu Bakarr Tarawallie said.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone’s president has urged for calm.

Speaking to the nation via a televised address, President Ernest Bai Koroma said he was “disturbed” by the incident and gave his condolences to bereaved families.

– By REUTERS