ARLINGTON, Wash., March 25 Rescue workers sifted
through mucky rubble on Tuesday amid dwindling hopes of finding
any more survivors from among scores of people still missing
from a devastating weekend mudslide in Washington state that
killed at least 14.
About a dozen workers kept up the search overnight for as
many as 176 people who have been reported missing since a
rain-soaked hillside collapsed on Saturday morning, swallowing
dozens of homes near Oso, Snohomish County Executive John Lovick
Compounding their sense of urgency was a fear of flooding as
water levels rose behind a crude dam of mud and rubble that had
been dumped into the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River by
the slide in an area along State Route 530, about 55 miles (90
km) northeast of Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest state.
Authorities were hoping the number of people listed as
missing would decline as they had perhaps been double-counted or
had been slow to alert family and officials about their
The rescuers, using dogs, earth-moving equipment and
aircraft, had failed to locate any more people in the rubble
early on Tuesday.
"This is an extremely difficult and emotional time for the
families and friends of those impacted by the Oso mudslide,"
Washington state Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.
"Family members are grieving, trying to focus on finding
missing loved ones or working through the process of rebuilding
what was lost," Inslee said.
President Barack Obama, who was in Europe on Monday for a
meeting with world leaders, signed an emergency declaration
ordering U.S. government assistance to supplement state and
local relief efforts, the White House said.
More than 100 properties were hit by the mudslide. Eight
people were injured.
A 22-week-old baby injured in the slide remained in critical
condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after being
taken there by helicopter along with his mother who also was
hurt, the hospital said early on Tuesday.
A report filed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1999
highlighting "the potential for a large catastrophic failure"
was one of many warnings issued about the area where the
disaster occurred, the Seattle Times newspaper reported.
The rescue effort after Saturday's mudslide has been fraught
with treacherous conditions and stalled efforts.
Quicksand-like 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.
Search crew workers were forced again to briefly retreat on
Monday from the western edge of the slide area after movement
was detected along a 1,500-foot (460-meter) stretch of earth.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in Arlington, Wash.; Writing by
Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Gareth Jones)