The death toll from Saturday’s devastating landslide in Washington is expected to rise to 24 after increasingly desperate rescuers slogging through debris recovered two bodies and believed they had located eight more, the local fire chief said on Tuesday.
The official death toll rose to 16 with the discovery of the additional victims as crews searched under drizzly skies for survivors amid fading hopes that anyone could still be plucked alive from the massive pile of mud-soaked rumble.
‘Unfortunately we did not find any signs of life today, we didn’t locate anybody alive, so that’s the disappointing part,’ local fire chief Travis Hots told a media briefing.
‘It’s unimaginable, the conditions out there they’re dealing with,’ Hots said.
The grim discoveries came three days after the collapse of a rain-soaked hillside about 55 miles north of Seattle.
Searchers had warned they were likely to find more bodies in the debris field, which covered a neighborhood of 49 structures. Authorities believe at least 25 were full-time residences.
Authorities believe that the mudslide destroyed 35 homes, as well as 13 manufactured homes, including RVs, and at least one cabin.
As many as 176 people remained listed as missing three days after the slide on Saturday, tumbling over a river, across a state road and into a rural residential area where it swallowed dozens of homes near the town of Oso.
Officials said they were hoping that number would decline as some of those listed as missing may have been double-counted or were slow to alert family and officials of their whereabouts. Eight people were injured.