Photos of a deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone

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A mass burial of victims is planned to free up space in mortuaries.

An excavator ploughed away at the mountainside and ambulances rushed back and forth to the city centre with bodies and wounded, but rescue efforts were hampered by bad roads and the weather, a witness said.

The mortuary at Connaught Hospital was overwhelmed by the number of dead, and bodies had to be spread out on the floor, said coroner's technician Sinneh Kamara.

He said the search to identify corpses and possible survivors is still in progress as hundreds more are feared to remain missing after the mudslide hit.

World Vision's national director James Chifwelu said the loss of life was "disturbing" but added, 'It's most disturbing that many children in their school uniforms were unfortunately fatally caught up in the landslide and many more are homeless, orphaned and will be without food and clothing for days to come.

Medecins Sans Frontieres was providing hundreds of body bags to authorities that the medical charity kept in Sierra Leone after the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak which killed 4,000 people in the former British colony.

Thousands lost their homes in the disaster, which was triggered by heavy rains. Many victims were asleep in bed when disaster struck.

The number of casualties is expected to rise.

Another 3,000 people were estimated to have lost their homes.

"It's very hard to paint what the reality looks like, because it's more scary and very sad and disastrous than anyone can be able to describe", he said.

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"My wife is dead".

A man said he had left early in the morning to buy bread. She was one of some who heard the mudslide approaching. We were trying to flee. "She was covered, alive", Adama told the broadcaster.

"I have never seen anything like it", he told the Associated Press. "My baby was just seven weeks old".

No casualties to Chinese nationals have been reported, Hua said.

Street Child CEO, Tom Dannatt, said: 'Street Child will not ignore those who need our help. The collapse happened after heavy rains in the area.

It was then they realised their home had been submerged in water.

Mr Foh told Reuters news agency that the disaster was "so serious that I myself feel broken".

Sierra Leone is now facing a desperate situation caused by a recent series of heavy flooding which led to mudslides and a hillside collapsing.

Freetown is hit each year by flooding during several months of rain, raising the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera.