Washington Mudslide: 14 Dead, 176 Missing as Rescuers Sift Through Rubble

Image: Washington Mudslide: 14 Dead, 176 Missing as Rescuers Sift Through Rubble Washington State Patrol, emergency workers examine debris after a mudslide.

Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 12:54 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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Washington mudslide rescuers found six more bodies Monday, but fear that many more victims could be buried in the rubble as the list of those missing increased to 176.

To date, emergency crews have found 14 bodies in the mud and debris of the massive mudslide that demolished more than 30 home and buried roads and neighborhoods in Snohomish County, Wash., Saturday morning, according to the Seattle Times.

The search has been somewhat hampered because the mud remains unstable and there is a concern that more of the cliff will crumble and trap rescuers, local media outlets reported. The National Guard has been called in to assist in the search, the Seattle Times noted.

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"In areas, it's like quicksand," Travis Hots, chief of Snohomish County Fire Districts 21 and 22, told the Times. "Sometimes it takes five minutes to walk 40 to 50 feet and get our equipment over these berms."

John Pennington, of the county's emergency management department, is trying to be optimistic about those who are still missing.

"Candidly, the 176 names . . . I believe very strongly is not going to be a number that we're going to see in fatalities," Pennington said. "I believe it's going to drop dramatically. But it doesn't make the process any easier."

Resident Cory Kuntz told The Associated Press his aunt Linda McPherson was one of those reportedly killed in the mudslide. He told the AP that he and other volunteers used chainsaws to cut through the roof of his uncle's house, which was thrown about 150 yards from its foundation.

"When you look at it, you just kind of go in shock, and you kind of go numb," he said. "[Rescuers] are all eager to get down here, but unfortunately they can't. It just shows how tight this community is."

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