CONAKRY, Guinea (AFP) — Authorities in Guinea said Tuesday that they had found at least 19 bodies believed to have washed up from neighbouring Sierra Leone following catastrophic flooding and mudslides there.
Some 500 people died and more than 800 were reported missing after the disaster that struck Sierra Leone's capital Freetown on August 13-14, when heavy rains swept away everything in their path.
Two weeks later, officials in Guinea said bodies had washed up as far away as the capital Conakry, some 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Freetown, as well as further down the coast at the ports of Koba and Kakossa and off the island of Kabak.
"Since the catastrophe in Freetown we have recovered a total of 19 bodies off our coasts, only one of which bore ID," maritime chief Seinkou Keita told reporters in Conakry.
Authorities believe they must have been carried by the currents from Sierra Leone due to the grim state of the bodies. One was missing its limbs, as were the bodies of many of victims swept away by the torrent in Freetown.
Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world, is struggling to recover from the disaster that hit its capital just three years after its last catastrophe, Ebola.
Authorities say heavy rains on August 13 saturated the hilly ground in some neighbourhoods of the densely-populated city of 1.2 million, causing landslides that carried away hundreds of ramshackle homes.