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    Flooding, mudslides claim more than 400 lives in Sierra Leone

    By Courtney Spamer, AccuWeather meteorologist
    By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
    August 18, 2017, 5:06:37 AM EDT

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    Repeated plumes of moisture brought torrential rain to the west African country of Sierra Leone this week, claiming the lives of more than 400 people in and around the capital of Freetown, according to the Associated Press.

    Vice President Victor Foh warned that the death toll may rise much higher as an estimated 600 people are still missing.

    The rain fell at its heaviest on Sunday and Sunday night across the western coast of the country, where Freetown is located.

    A partial collapse of Sugar Loaf mountain occurred around 6 a.m. local time on Monday, according to BBC. The mudslide buried homes in the Regent area of Freetown.

    Rescue efforts continued into Wednesday in an attempt to search through the rubble for survivors.

    SierraLeoneAug15

    Rescue workers gather at the summit of a mudslide in Regent, east of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Monday, Aug. 14 , 2017. (AP Photo/ Manika Kamara)


    President Ernest Bai Koroma pleaded for help earlier this week saying, "Entire communities have been wiped out. We need urgent support now."

    In addition to the estimated death toll, the Red Cross has estimated that more than 3,000 people were left homeless by the flooding and mudslides in the area. Many communities remain without electricity.

    Sierra Leone is not unaccustomed to waves of heavy rain, especially during this time of year. It is this rain that pushes off the west coast of Africa and eventually forms tropical waves in the Atlantic. The middle of August into late September is often when the height of this moisture occurs.

    Freetown averages more than 500 mm (20 inches) of rainfall during the month of August.

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    The plume of moisture that caused the flooding and deadly mudslides in Freetown has moved off the coast of Africa and may spawn a tropical depression in the Atlantic as early as this weekend.

    Additional rain and thunderstorms will be possible through the weekend. This could cause more mudslides due to the already saturated soil.

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