More than 300 people have been killed in a mudslide on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown following heavy rains and flooding.
The Red Cross said hundreds of bodies had been taken to the central morgue in Freetown.
Survivors and volunteers dug through the mud and debris at times with their bare hands in a desperate search for missing relatives.
Initial Red Cross estimates said as many as 3,000 people were left homeless by the disaster and that figure was expected to rise.
Police and military personnel were at the scene in the mountain town of Regent searching for people trapped in the debris.
Standing in the rain, residents sobbed as they mourned family members and waited for news of those missing.
Adama Kamara wept as she described a failed attempt to rescue her seven-week-old child.
“We were inside when we heard the mudslide approaching. I attempted to grab my baby but the mud was too fast. She was covered alive,” said Ms Kamara, who escaped with bruises.
She said she was not sure what had happened to her husband.
A man said he had left early in the morning to buy bread.
When he returned, his wife, children, siblings and in-laws were all dead.
The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered, Red Cross spokesman Abu Bakarr Tarawallie said.
Vice-President Victor Foh said “it is likely that hundreds are lying dead underneath the rubble”.
He said a number of illegal buildings had been erected in the area.
“The disaster is so serious that I myself feel broken,” he said.
“We’re trying to cordon the area. Evacuate the people.”
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.
Sierra Leone’s national broadcaster interrupted its regular programming to show scenes of people trying to retrieve their loved ones’ bodies.
Others were seen carting relatives’ remains in rice sacks to the morgue.
Morgues ‘too small’ to accommodate the bodies
Bodies were spread out on the floor of a morgue, Sinneh Kamara, a coroner technician at the Connaught Hospital mortuary, told the national broadcaster.
“The capacity at the mortuary is too small for the corpses,” he said.
Mr Kamara urged the health department to deploy more ambulances, saying his mortuary only had four.
Community chief Fatmata Tarawallie said she had started calling for help at 4:00am on Monday but that it did not come soon enough.
“Now our community has sunk,” she said.
Military personnel have been deployed to help in the rescue operation currently ongoing, officials said.
Many of the impoverished areas of Sierra Leone’s capital are close to sea level and have poor drainage systems, exacerbating flooding during the West African country’s rainy season.