Landslides in Sri Lanka have devastated several villages and have buried up to 220 families, according to the Associated Press.
Emergency personnel have been digging through mud and debris to recover missing persons in three villages that were hit hard by recent landslides caused by days of heavy rains.
Rescuers have recovered 17 bodies from the mud in one village, but hundreds of families are still reporting missing loved ones.
"The task is to figure out what happened to them," the Sri Lankan Red Cross said in a statement, adding that some family members listened to warnings to evacuate the villages, so it is difficult to know how many may be buried beneath the mud and debris.
Officials are also warning that, as rains continue to fall, there is a possibility of more landslides in the region.
Villagers recalled what happened as the landslides began:
"I heard a huge sound like a plane crashing into the Earth," said 52-year-old A.G. Kamala, who had just returned to her house in the village of Siripura when the landslides hit. "I opened my door. I could not believe my eyes, as I saw something like a huge fireball rolling down the mountain."
Some villagers took refuge in a school while they waited for news of found loved ones.
Lal, another villager, said that 18 of his family members are missing, all possibly buried under the mud. He said he and his wife had been heading to a different village, but his wife went back home.
"That was the last time I saw her," Lal said, sobbing. When he heard about the landslide, he rushed home but found the area covered with thick, heavy mud. "All I could do was scream.”
Each of the villages are thought to be home to 1,000 to 1,500 people.
Publication date: May 18, 2016