Death toll in Washington state mudslide rises to 34

Tue Apr 8, 2014 12:38pm EDT

1 of 9. Members of communities affected by the Oso mudslide participate a candlelight vigil at the Community Center in Darrington, Washington April 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Redmond

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(Reuters) - The death toll in a mudslide that devastated a rural Washington state community last month rose to 34 on Tuesday as one more body was extricated from the rubble, the Snohomish County medical examiner said.

A rain-soaked hillside collapsed without warning above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River on March 22, unleashing a torrent of mud that engulfed some three dozen homes on the outskirts of the tiny community of Oso.

Of the 34 people confirmed dead, 30 have been identified, the Snohomish County medical examiner's office said in a statement. The office did not give details on the latest body to be found.

Recovery crews were still searching for another 12 people unaccounted for as of Monday, but that figure could fluctuate as it has since the day of the disaster. The missing include three children - a 2-year-old girl and two boys, ages 4 and 14. At least half of the missing lived on Steelhead Drive, which the mudslide hit, according to the county.

Recovery efforts have been hampered by rain, which has created treacherous conditions and raised the risk of further slides and flash floods.

No one has been pulled alive from the rubble since the landslide, when at least eight people were injured but survived. Rescue teams have since found no signs of life.

(Reporting by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

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