Tehran, YJC. Rescue work continues in Oso, about 89 km northeast of Seattle, to find any of the 90 people who have gone missing since last week’s mudslide.
US officials have been slow to update the death toll which was still 17 on Friday. But Snohomish County officials said at least 8 other victims were located in the debris but had yet to be recovered.
Officials said they found one more body in a field of debris left behind when a rain-soaked hillside collapsed without warning last Saturday, unleashing a towering wall of mud onto the outskirts of rural Oso.
The new discovery brings the presumed death count to 27 based on the number of bodies people have reported finding.
The New York Times said emergency officials declined to confirm numerous reports by volunteers and families about retrieved bodies.
"There’s families that are up there and there’s volunteers up there that are saying, ‘Yes, we’re finding people,’” said Travis Hots, a district fire chief in Snohomish County.
The rescue operation was difficult on Friday because of rain and wind as well as anxiety over how bad the disaster might yet get.
"We always want to hold out hope but I think we have to at some point expect the worst," Snohomish County Executive Director Gary Haakenson told a news conference after being asked if a large portion of the 90 people listed as missing were now feared dead.
"The crews are finding bodies in the field. It's a very slow process. It was miserable to begin with. As you all know, it's rained heavily the last few days. It's made the quicksand even worse," he said.