UPDATE 1-West Africans fill churches to pray for deliverance from 'devil' Ebola

Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:57pm EDT
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* Sierra Leoneans, Liberians defy warnings, flock to churches

* Both nations have declared state of emergency

* Spanish priest to be treated with ZMapp experimental drug

* Pharmaceutical company says to begin testing vaccine soon (Adds details)

By Clair MacDougall and Umaru Fofana

MONROVIA/FREETOWN, Aug 10 (Reuters) - People in Sierra Leone and Liberia filled churches on Sunday to seek deliverance from an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, defying official warnings to avoid public gatherings to contain an epidemic that has killed nearly 1,000 people in West Africa.

With their creaking healthcare systems completely overrun, Sierra Leone and Liberia have both declared states of emergency to tackle the highly contagious and incurable disease, which has also stricken neighbouring Guinea.

People still flocked to sing and pray at churches in Liberia's ramshackle ocean-front capital Monrovia, many of them comparing Ebola to the brutal civil war that ravaged the country between 1989 and 2003, killing nearly a quarter of a million people.

One of the deadliest diseases known to man, Ebola kills up to 90 percent of those infected. Discovered nearly 40 years ago deep in the forests of central Africa, its symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting.   Continued...