Death Toll From Washington Landslide Climbs to at Least 25

By By Mark Leberfinger, Staff Writer
March 29, 2014, 1:57:46 AM EDT

At least 25 people have been confirmed dead and as many as 90 people remain missing or unaccounted for after Saturday's landslide in Washington state, according to the Associated Press.

As the rescue and recovery effort continues into Thursday, the toll is expected to rise.

"Sixteen bodies have been recovered, but officials say at least nine more had been found as of Wednesday night," the Associated Press reported, including a 4-month old infant.

More victims were found on Tuesday, officials said, but the number of victims wasn't officially confirmed.

Two people died at the scene and a third person died at an area hospital, the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said. Five others were found at the scene during search and rescue operations late Sunday afternoon.

Eight people, including a 6-month-old infant, were rescued and hospitalized.


The landslide occurred about 10:45 a.m. PST on Saturday in Oso on Washington Route 530 between Arlington and Darrington, Wash., and destroyed at least six homes. Oso had a population of 180 people and 62 occupied homes, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

"You need to see it to believe it. I've not seen anything like it since Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980," Snohomish County Executive John Lovick said.

Rescue operations are extremely hazardous due to the debris field, which has been described by rescuers as a “quicksand-like consistency,” Snohomish County officials said in a news release Sunday.


The cause of the slide is believed to be ground water saturation from heavy rainfall in the area previously this month, sheriff's officials said.

"It sounds very realistic with all the rain earlier in the month. There hasn't been much precipitation in the last few days," Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.

Everett, Wash., 31 miles southwest of Oso, had 5.64 inches of rain or 261 percent of normal, as of Friday, March 21, 2014.

The slide cut off the City of Darrington and blocked the North Fork of the Sillaguamish River. County officials said the slide is about 1 square mile and up to 15 feet deep.


The blockage at the Sillaquamish River has concerned sheriff's officials because of the threat of high impact, downstream flooding once the blockage is gone, according to the department's Twitter feed.


State, federal and county agencies were at the scene over the weekend. Search and rescue operations will resume Monday morning.


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