Sierra Leone’s race to bury mudslide victims

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There’s little time for mourning as Sierra Leone rushes to bury its dead. Hundreds of residents queued in Freetown on Wednesday to identify victims of a deadly mudslide amid fears that the decomposing bodies could lead to a public health emergency.

Nearly 400 people have been confirmed dead in flooding that swept away homes in Regent, a town on the edge of the capital on Monday.

Families were summoned to the morgue after the government said all unidentified bodies would be buried by Friday – transported to a cemetery where victims of the Ebola outbreak that ravaged this country a few years ago are buried.

Emergency response teams have raced to dig out survivors but many are still feared trapped under mud and rubble.

Aid workers have said there is a high risk of disease outbreaks such as cholera.

Meanwhile a minute of silence was also held on Wednesday in memory of the hundreds of people killed.

President Ernest Bai Koroma announced on national TV channel, SLBC that the country would observe a week-long mourning in remembrance of those killed in the disaster.

The country of 6 million people is one of the poorest in the world and was ravaged by West Africa’s 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, which killed 4 000 people in the former British colony.