The rains that have bedeviled rescuers working to find more victims in the debris field from the deadly Washington state mudslide are expected to ease this week, but searchers faced other challenges at the site like household chemicals and sewage.
Hundreds of family photographs and albums are among the personal belongings being recovered by crews searching for victims at a massive debris site left by the deadly mudslide in Washington state.
Officials say many of those thought missing have been located and are safe.
Weary rescuers in hip waders pressed through rain and their own exhaustion Thursday, searching for more bodies and perhaps a miracle atop the pile of filth and debris that laid waste to a Washington town and killed at least 26 people.
The main goal now is to find more bodies and winnow the list of the 90 people who are still missing in the mudslide that buried the community of Oso on Saturday.
Washington state authorities say the number of mudslide fatalities will go up substantially within the next two days.
Seismometers showed no earthquake triggered Saturday’s landslide at Oso, but seismic signals show there were two major slides during the event, about four minutes apart.
As firefighter Jeff McClelland uncovered a body on the moon-like surface that blankets what used to be the community of Oso, he soon realized that the search party had a close connection to the victim: The dead man’s son and brother were among the volunteers scouring the debris field.
First there was a “whoosh.” Elaine Young said she thought it might be a chimney fire, a rush of air that lasted about 45 seconds. But when she stepped outside there was ominous silence. Something felt very, very wrong.
The changing figure has added to the confusion of a rescue and recovery operation that has involved aircraft, heavy equipment, trained search crews, and desperate friends and family using chain saws and their bare hands to pick through the debris.