Hope For Lower Death Toll In Washington State Mudslide
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[March 26, 2014]
ARLINGTON, Washington (Reuters) —
The death toll from a weekend landslide in Washington State looked set
to rise on Wednesday but officials say some of the scores of people
listed as missing may have been double-counted or slow to alert family
of their whereabouts.
As many as 176 people are listed as missing five days after a
rain-soaked hillside collapsed, tumbling over a river, across a road
and into a rural residential area where it buried dozens of homes
near the town of Oso.
"We can confirm that we have recovered 2 more bodies, bringing our
total to 16, and believe we have located an additional 8," the
Snohomish County Twitter feed said.
Search and rescue operations tapered off overnight but ramped up to
full strength again at first light on Wednesday, using dogs to
pinpoint possible bodies, and electrical equipment including
listening devices and cameras that can probe voids.
Forecasts in the area were for rain on Wednesday, and the previous
day crews searching in drizzling rain for survivors had found more
bodies. Officials have signaled the chances were low of finding
people alive in the blanket of cement-like mud.
"We're not backing off. We're still going at this with all eight
cylinders to get everyone out there who is unaccounted for," local
fire chief Travis Hots said.
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The slide ranks as one of the worst in the United States and has
devastated residents of the roughly square-mile area where they had
their homes on the banks of a river.
In 1969, 150 people were killed in landslides and floods in Nelson
County, Virginia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; writing by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle;
editing by Louise Ireland)
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