Mudslide Animation Shows How Fast Victims in Oso Were Buried

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 08:39 AM

By Michael Mullins

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An animation created by the U.S. Geological Survey illustrates the speed at which the mudslide overtook the Washington State town of Oso on March 22, killing at least 36 people.

According to the model, the entire ordeal lasted just 60 seconds. The mudslide crossed the Stillaguamish River and headed for Steelhead Drive – where many of the victims perished – in just 20 seconds time. Over the course of the next 30 to 40 seconds, the mudslide continued to push southward adding layer upon layer of mud over areas further down then valley, NBC News reported.

In an interview with, Richard Iverson, a landslide specialist with the USGS’ Cascades Volcano Observatory, told the news outlet that residents living in the town of Oso had no time to react to the fatal mudslide as it swept over their homes in a matter of seconds.

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The sophisticated computer responsible for producing the animation took 20 years to develop and is located in Vancouver, Wash., near Portland. The device is able to create a visual demonstration of the mudslide in part by analyzing the material of the mudslide, such as the types of dirt and rock found in the aftermath, reported.

As of Friday morning, the mudslide is responsible for killing at least 36 people, while another 11 individuals remain missing.

While the search for the missing continues, the Army Corps of Engineers is said to be constructing a berm — a big rock and gravel barrier – near the site so to allow rescue workers increased access to areas that still must be drained. The berm should be finished within a week, according to Snohomish County Public Works Director Steve Thomsen.

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