Mud and structural debris block Highway 530 near Oso,
Washington following the deadly landslide. REUTERS/Lindsey
More than 100 missing-persons reports have been filed
with various agencies in Washington state in the aftermath of a
mudslide in which eight deaths have been confirmed, county
The landslide was triggered after rain-soaked embankments
along State Route 530 near Oso, Washington, about 90km
northeast of Seattle, gave way on Saturday morning (local
time), washing away at least six homes.
In all, at least 49 homes had some level of damage from the
slide, said John Pennington, director of the Snohomish County
Department of Emergency Management.
The search for victims has resumed after treacherous
quicksand conditions forced rescue workers to suspend their
efforts at dusk on Sunday. Some workers, mired in mud up to
their armpits, had to be dragged to safety.
A spokesman for the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said
eight bodies had been found by Sunday evening in the
square-mile (2.6 square km) disaster zone of tangled debris,
rocks, trees and mud. Another eight people were injured in
On Sunday night, officials put the number of missing at 18 or
more, but on Monday morning Pennington said various agencies
had collected reports - some specific and others vague - of
108 people who remained unaccounted for after the disaster.
Pennington said that number was likely to decline as
survivors initially reported as missing eventually make
contact with loved ones and local authorities, or as some
reports turn out to overlap with others.
But authorities cast growing doubt on the chances of finding
anyone else alive in the tangle of debris and mud that is up
to 15 feet (5 m) deep.
"The situation is very grim," said Travis Hots, Snohomish
County District 21 Fire Chief. "We're still holding out hope
that we're going to be able to find people that may still be
alive. But keep in mind we haven't found anybody alive on
this pile since Saturday in the initial stages of our
Washington state Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen has declared a
state of emergency in Snohomish County.