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.
A list of resources for victims of the slide and information if you want to help out.
Images of just some of the devastation in Snohomish County.
Voices of people crying for help in the wreckage of a deadly Washington state mudslide have stopped, and hopes of finding any more survivors waned as searchers pulled more bodies from the tangled debris field and crews worked through the night into Monday.