Washington mudslide death toll remains steady; 90 missing

Washington mudslide death toll remains steady; 90 missing

Washington mudslide death toll remains steady; 90 missing

Written by Bella Dalima

27 Mar, 2014 | 4:23 pm

More bodies have been located in the debris of the deadly mudslide in Oso, Washington, while the number of missing people has fallen from 176 to 90, officials said Wednesday.

Authorities confirmed on Tuesday that 16 people are dead, and an additional eight have been located, but not yet extracted from the debris; these numbers held constant as of Wednesday night. The official death toll did not rise, according to John Pennington, Snohomish County’s emergency-management director.

While additional bodies have been located, Pennington said he would not share figures. Either these bodies have not been extracted, or they have not yet been examined by the medical examiner, he said.

The only good news from Wednesday: The list of missing people was cut in half from 176 to 90 people. This was expected, and officials confirmed the decrease after combing through the list for duplicate names, and reaching out to those unaccounted for. An additional 35 people are “status unknown,” which means officials have not yet confirmed whether they are missing, or simply out of the area.

“This is what we expected,” said Pennington of the revised list. “I think this is a logical number we can work around.”

Search and rescue efforts continued at full strength Wednesday, and officials brought a select few press members to see the slide zone for the first time since Saturday morning. What they found was a mess of trees, mud and wires that some are comparing to the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Snohomish County executive John Lovick also visited the slide zone for the first time since Saturday’s incident. Lovick served 31 years as a Washington State Trooper in addition to 13 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, but said nothing prepared him for the devastation he saw on Wednesday.

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