A rain-soaked hillside collapsed above the north fork of the
Stillaguamish River on March 22, unleashing a torrent of mud that
swallowed up a stretch of a state highway and some three dozen homes
on the outskirts of the tiny community of Oso.
Of the 37 people confirmed dead, 36 have been positively identified,
most recently a 14-year-old boy on Friday, Snohomish County
officials said in a statement. The death toll stood at 36 on Monday.
Recovery crews were still searching for another seven people listed
as missing. Their efforts in recent days have benefited from dry
weather, a welcome change from periods of rain that have caused
treacherous conditions and raised the risk of more slides and flash
President Barack Obama has plans to visit Oso next week to view the
disaster site and meet with survivors and grieving relatives of the
victims, as well as first responders and recovery workers.
No one has been pulled alive from the rubble since the hours
immediately following the mudslide, when at least eight people
suffered injuries. Rescue teams have found no signs of life since
the day of the disaster.
The search continues to produce daily accounts of grief and loss. On
Tuesday, a U.S. Army soldier who took leave to search for missing
family members believed to have been buried in the muddy rubble was
found dead of an apparent suicide, authorities said.
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Specialist Christopher Dombroski, 20, was found in the Capitol State
Forest just west of Olympia, having suffered what appeared to be a
self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Thurston County Sheriff's Office
spokesman Greg Elwin.
Dombroski was the nephew of Steve and Theresa Harris, who are among
the seven people listed as missing in the mudslide, said Lieutenant
Colonel Joe Sowers, an Army spokesman.
The soldier, who had served one tour in Afghanistan, was granted
time off from work at the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base
Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle, to help search for victims of the
slide, Sowers said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in Olympia, Wash.,
editing by Steve
Gorman, Eric M. Johnson, Gunna Dickson and Ken Wills)
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