Photo taken on Aug. 14, 2017 shows the flooding site in Freetown, Sierra Leone. More than 300 people were killed in a mudslide and flooding on Monday in the area of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, the national broadcaster said. (Xinhua/Liu Yu)
FREETOWN, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- More than 300 people were killed in a mudslide and flooding on Monday in the area of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, the national broadcaster said.
The death toll is expected to rise in the worst ever natural disaster caused by heavy rain to hit the city, which has also left more than 2,000 people homeless.
Heavy rain in the early hours of Monday was reported to have caused the side of a hill to collapse, trapping hundreds of people in the hilltop town of Regent on the outskirts of Freetown, a coastal city of about 1.2 million.
Bodies were buried under the debris of ruined homes or floating in water. The dead were taken to Freetown's Connaught Hospital, where people were stopped by servicemen from identifying the bodies in order to reduce chaos, reports said.
Videos posted online by local residents showed yellow mud rushed to the streets of Freetown and the flood water reached as high as people's chest.
Rescue work is still going on in and near the capital of the western African country, one of the world's least developed countries, which is still recovering from an outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014 that caused more than 4,000 deaths.
Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma said emergency services were doing everything possible to tackle the current disaster.
Koroma said in an address broadcast on television late Monday that an emergency response center had been set up in the town of Regent, which is worst hit.
"Our nation has once again been gripped by grief. Many of our compatriots have lost their lives, many more have been gravely injured and billions of Leones' worth of property destroyed in the flooding and landslides that swept across some parts of our city," he said.
"Every single family, every single ethnic group, every single region is either directly or indirectly affected by this disaster," Koroma added.
He meanwhile praised the efforts made by the military personnel and police in the rescue work.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday expressed condolences over the deaths in the country.
"The Secretary-General is saddened by the deaths and devastation caused by the mudslide and flooding in the town of Regent, Sierra Leone, and throughout Freetown," said Farhan Haq, Guterres' deputy spokesman.
"The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the people and Government of Sierra Leone for the loss of life and destruction caused by this natural disaster."