Washington landslide: 8 dead, more missing

108 'reports of names' of missing in landslide

March 24, 2014



"Total devastation. I mean itís just unbelievable."

—Ty Trenary


Eight bodies have been recovered from debris and muddy rubble after a landslide took place north of Seattle on Saturday.

Emergency officials announced Monday that it has 108 reports of names of people missing or unaccounted for after a massive mudslide hit rural Snohomish County Saturday, primarily affecting the communities of Oso and Darrington.

But that doesn’t mean all of them were killed in Saturday’s disaster north of Seattle, Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington said. The official death toll remains at eight with seven others hurt, he said.

The landslide affected the towns of Oso, a remote community of about 180, and Darrington, a town of about 1,350. The landslide cut of State Road 530 to Darrington. Part of the Stillaguamish River also was blocked, and residents were warned of possible flooding both upstream and downstream of the collapse.

At least six houses were destroyed in the landslide and as many as 16 were damaged, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

The landslide covered about one square mile and was caused by groundwater saturation tied to heavy rain in the area over the past month.

The slide wiped through what neighbors described as a former fishing village of small homes—some nearly 100 years old.

Fire District 21/22 Chief Travis Hots said no more bodies were found overnight Sunday into Monday. He said the ground remained unstable. “The situation is very grim.” Said Hots.

“Total devastation. I mean it’s just unbelievable. It reminds me of what a tornado looks like when it’s touched the ground,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said.

The mud flow is like quicksand, he said. The landslide is 15 feet deep in some places.

He described the ongoing operation as an “active rescue,” not a recovery effort.

“Mother Nature holds the cards here on the ability of ground personnel to enter the slide area. It is essentially a slurry.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters Sunday. He called the rescue operation “aggressive.”

“Every human endeavor Öis being explored here to rescue and find their loved ones,” the governor said.

More local and federal resources are being brought in to help, including personnel, aircraft, search dogs and technical rescue experts.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is also bringing in heavy equipment to clear the mud.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Monday afternoon.


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