Nearly 500 dead pulled from Sierra Leone mudslide

Rescue workers have unearthed 499 dead bodies since last week's devastating landslide near the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, the city's chief coroner told Reuters on Sunday.

One of Africa's worst flooding-related disasters in years occurred when the side of Mount Sugar Loaf collapsed on Monday after heavy rain, burying parts of Regent town and overwhelming relief efforts in one of the world's poorest countries.

Authorities this week buried 461 bodies in quickly-dug graves in the nearby Waterloo cemetery, near the site of a mass burial for victims of the Ebola crisis that killed 4,000 people in the former British colony between 2014 and 2016.

Thirty-eight more bodies were found on Sunday, said chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya, bringing the official death toll to 499. They were being sent for immediate burial, he said.

The Red Cross said on Friday that over 600 are still missing.

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An increasingly desperate search continued on Sunday on the steep hillside under the wet red mud, as the likelihood of finding survivors was all but extinguished.

Authorities said they were concentrating on digging up bodies to stop fluids from contaminated corpses getting into the water supply and spreading disease.

"We are doing all we can to ensure cholera does not break out," said Samuel Turay, an official at the health ministry.

The threat of deadly landslides is growing in west and central Africa as rainfall, deforestation and urban populations rise, experts say.

On Thursday, a landslide in remote eastern Congo crushed the mud houses of a lake-side fishing village, potentially killing over 200 people, a local official told Reuters.

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Sierra Leone mudslide leaves hundreds dead
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Sierra Leone mudslide leaves hundreds dead
SIERRA LEONE, FREETOWN - AUGUST 14 : Residents walk through floodwaters in an area of Freetown, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone on August 14, 2017. At least 312 people were killed when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Bystanders and rescue personnel gather beside a flood damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. At least 312 people were killed and more than 2,000 left homeless when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown, leaving morgues overflowing and residents desperately searching for loved ones. An AFP journalist at the scene saw bodies being carried away and houses submerged in two areas of the city, where roads turned into churning rivers of mud and corpses were washed up on the streets. / AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH (Photo credit should read SAIDU BAH/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A resident walks through floodwaters past a damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. At least 312 people were killed and more than 2,000 left homeless when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown, leaving morgues overflowing and residents desperately searching for loved ones. An AFP journalist at the scene saw bodies being carried away and houses submerged in two areas of the city, where roads turned into churning rivers of mud and corpses were washed up on the streets. / AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH (Photo credit should read SAIDU BAH/AFP/Getty Images)
SIERRA LEONE, FREETOWN - AUGUST 14 : Residents walk through floodwaters in an area of Freetown, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone on August 14, 2017. At least 312 people were killed when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SIERRA LEONE, FREETOWN - AUGUST 14 : Residents walk through floodwaters in an area of Freetown, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone on August 14, 2017. At least 312 people were killed when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SIERRA LEONE, FREETOWN - AUGUST 14 : Residents walk through floodwaters in an area of Freetown, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone on August 14, 2017. At least 312 people were killed when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SIERRA LEONE, FREETOWN - AUGUST 14 : Residents walk through floodwaters in an area of Freetown, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone on August 14, 2017. At least 312 people were killed when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Bystanders look on as floodwaters rage past a damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. At least 312 people were killed and more than 2,000 left homeless when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown, leaving morgues overflowing and residents desperately searching for loved ones. An AFP journalist at the scene saw bodies being carried away and houses submerged in two areas of the city, where roads turned into churning rivers of mud and corpses were washed up on the streets. / AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH (Photo credit should read SAIDU BAH/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents walk through floodwaters past a damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. At least 312 people were killed and more than 2,000 left homeless when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown, leaving morgues overflowing and residents desperately searching for loved ones. An AFP journalist at the scene saw bodies being carried away and houses submerged in two areas of the city, where roads turned into churning rivers of mud and corpses were washed up on the streets. / AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH (Photo credit should read SAIDU BAH/AFP/Getty Images)
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