Hundreds in Sierra Leone go missing after devastating mudslides

World News

Hundreds of people are feared dead following massive mudslides near Freetown, the capital of the West African nation of Sierra Leone, according to government officials and aid agencies.

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On Tuesday, Aug. 15, the official death toll rose to 245, with numbers expected to grow and hundreds still missing.

Heavy rain, normally a blessing at this time of year in West Africa, turned into a nightmare when flooding caused torrents of mud to wash down Mount Sugar Loaf about five miles outside the capital Freetown, according to government officials and aid agencies. (SEE CAPTION FOR FULL CREDIT)

Some 600 people are still believed to be unaccounted for, and between 2,000 and 3,000 have been displaced. (SEE CAPTION FOR FULL CREDIT)

"The scenes are heartbreaking, with the sounds of wailing and mourning everywhere as relatives struggle to cope with the loss of loved ones and the complete devastation of their homes and settlements," said James Chifwelu, national director of the charity World Vision in Sierra Leone. (SEE CAPTION FOR FULL CREDIT)

It is the rainy season in Sierra Leone and this year has been particularly wet, with Freetown receiving more than 41 inches of rain since July 1 -- about triple the average of 13.8 inches, according to the US National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center. (SEE CAPTION FOR FULL CREDIT)