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More than 400 people confirmed dead after Sierra Leone mudslides

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Volunteers bury coffins during a mass funeral for victims of heavy flooding and mudslides in Regent at a cemetery in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Thursday

Volunteers bury coffins during a mass funeral for victims of heavy flooding and mudslides in Regent at a cemetery in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Thursday

Volunteers bury coffins during a mass funeral for victims of heavy flooding and mudslides in Regent at a cemetery in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Thursday

Rescuers in Sierra Leone have warned that the chances of finding survivors in the debris of this week's mudslides which have killed more than 400 people "are getting smaller every day".

Burials and rescue efforts have continued amid amid the threat of further disaster after mudslides hit the capital Freetown, with some 600 people missing and feared dead.

At least 122 of the victims are children, and a similar number have been orphaned by the disaster, aid group Save the Children said.

The UN humanitarian agency puts the death toll at 409.

Burials have begun in a cemetery which holds victims of the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak which killed thousands in the West African country.

Many people have been unable to find loved ones, while it has proven impossible to identify many bodies. The government has vowed to hold respectful burials for all.

"The death toll is climbing by the day," Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told reporters in Geneva.

He added that dealing with the disaster is "way beyond the capacity of the government alone".

The government has warned Freetown residents to evacuate a mountainside where a large crack has opened. Rainfall is also forecast for the coming days, slowing recovery efforts.

Some critics accused the government of not learning from past disasters in a city where many poor areas are near sea level and lack good drainage.

The capital is also plagued by unregulated construction on its hillsides.

Zuliatu Cooper, the deputy minister of health and sanitation, said the government's main focus right now is getting people away from areas still under threat.

He added: "The rains are still pending and there is a possibility that we will have another incident."

Some parts of the capital are without clean drinking water because of damage to pipelines. Malaria is also a concern, as many of the estimated 3,000 homeless are sleeping without mosquito nets.

AP