Sierra Leone mudslide disaster killed more than 1,000 - local leader and minister

The Sierra Leone mudslide disaster killed more than 1,000 people, according to a local leader and minister.

Heavy rains caused the side of a mountain overlooking the city to collapse, obliterating homes and buildings below as people slept on Monday 14 August.

A huge rescue operation was put in place, as it was quickly ascertained that hundreds were missing following the mudslide, which destroyed thousands of homes.

Survivors were forced to dig mass graves in the aftermath for those who perished in the disaster.

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Government spokesperson Cornelius Deveaux said at the time that mortuaries were "overwhelmed with corpses of men, women and children".

Many bodies were in a horrible state, missing arms, heads or legs, Deveaux said, adding that proper burials will be vital in keeping disease at bay.

The mudslide is the worst natural disaster ever to strike Sierra Leone, according to Society 4 Climate Change Communication.

Thousands of homes were destroyed. Credit: PA

Poor drainage systems in the impoverished areas of the capital - which are also close to sea level - are known to exacerbate flooding during the country's rainy season.

Thousands of makeshift settlements in and around the capital have been severely affected.

"The government has been warning people not to construct houses in these areas. When they do this, there are risks," Abdul Nasir from the Red Cross said.

"People don't follow the standard construction rules, and that is another reason that many of these houses have been affected."

Deforestation for firewood and charcoal is one of the leading factors of worsening flooding and mudslides.