“We have been through 10 years of war, then Ebola, and now this. Have mercy on Sierra Leone, Father,” a bishop prayed Wednesday during a vigil in the country’s capital of Freetown, where reports suggest 400 people are dead and another 600 are missing as a result of intense flooding and a mudslide. Officials are continuing to dig through the muck in an effort to find people buried when a mountainside collapsed Monday, bringing devastation to the Regent district built on hills, report Reuters and CNN. The chief coroner in Freetown—which received 27 inches of rain, more than double the average, between July 1 and Aug. 13—says nearly 400 bodies have arrived at morgues, but “we anticipate more than 500.” The dead reportedly include at least 109 children.
A reporter says he was “drenched in tears” while encountering the scene at Freetown’s central morgue, where “hundreds” of bodies were lying on floors, per the BBC. Another witness tells BuzzFeed there are dead bodies “littering some of the streets.” The AP reports bodies swept out to sea have also begun washing back ashore. Space is so limited at morgues that mass burials are being planned to make room. The national director of the World Vision charity describes the “sounds of wailing and mourning everywhere,” per CNN. And still, the devastation might not be over. A Red Cross official warns of the possibility of further flooding and landslides, while a UN spokesman cites concerns about outbreaks of waterborne diseases including cholera and typhoid.