Scores of people are feared dead and others remain trapped after a mudslide near Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.
A hillside in the Regent area collapsed early on Monday following heavy rains, leaving many houses covered in mud.
A BBC reporter at the scene says many people may have been asleep when the mudslide occurred.
The number of casualties is not yet known but Sierra Leone’s Vice-President Victor Bockarie Foh said it was “likely that hundreds are lying dead”.
Mr Foh told Reuters news agency that the disaster was “so serious that I myself feel broken”, adding that the area was being cordoned off as people were being evacuated.
The AFP news agency is reporting that at least 180 people have been killed, citing an official at the city’s Connaught Hospital. Dozens of bodies have so far been retrieved.
A local Red Cross spokesperson told the same news agency the total death toll from flooding in the capital had risen to 312.
Hundreds of people are likely to be left homeless following the mudslide.
At the scene: Search for loved ones
By Umaru Fofana, BBC Africa
People are wailing uncontrollably; one woman told me she had lost more than 11 members of her family in the disaster, while another man said he had lost his wife, mother-in-law and children.
Hundreds of people are still coming to the area to look for their loved ones. Some of them told me they have not been able to find them.
In fact, there is no sign of the dozens of homes that were built at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf.
They are covered in mud, with large areas of mire in some parts. It looks strong, but it is flaky. The concern is that if people walk there they risk sinking in the mud.
Emergency services are at the scene trying to rescue people trapped in their homes after a section of a hill collapsed, the Sierra Leone Telegraph reports.
Images posted on Twitter show people wading through streets, waist-deep in muddy water following the downpour in and around Freetown.
Flooding is not unusual in Sierra Leone, where unsafe housing is regularly swept away by heavy rains.
In 2015, Freetown endured deadly floods sparked by monsoon rains that killed 10 people and left thousands more homeless.
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