ARLINGTON, United States: The death toll from a devastating landslide in the US state of Washington rose to at least 14 on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) with over 150 more potentially missing, as the White House announced federal help.
The number of people un–accounted for after the killer mudslide, described as “like a small earthquake,” rose to 176, although many of those could be double-counted, emergency managers said.
“I’m very disappointed to tell you that we didn’t find any sign of any survivors,” said Snohomish County fire chief Travis Hots, after six more bodies had been found, adding to the eight already confirmed dead.
“The situation is very grim,” he added.
Emergency management chief John Pennington added: “I’m a man of faith and I believe in miracles . . . but I think that we as a community are beginning to realize that . . . we are moving towards a recovery operation.”
“Most of us . . . believe that we will not find any indivi-duals alive,” he added at an evening briefing.
The wall of mud, rocks and trees smashed into the rural town of Oso, northeast of Seattle in the northwestern US state on Saturday, destroying dozens of homes and part of a highway.
Some 100 emergency crew workers were searching for survivors in the field of mud and rubble about one mile (1.6 kilometers) square and some four to six meters (13 to 20 feet) deep in areas.
A total of 49 dwellings of various types in the area were hit by the devastating landslide, he said, adding that there were likely to have been more people at home on a Saturday than during the week.
Mini hovercraft were used to skate across the vast mudslide’s surface, while tracker dogs and helicopters were also being used.
Rescuers reported hearing voices calling for help on Saturday, but Hots said they “didn’t see or hear any signs of life” on Sunday.
Among the missing was a four-month-old baby and her grand–mother, local media reported.
Oso resident Doug Dix, whose house was a couple of hundred yards from the slide, said he was working in his barn when he heard a huge rumbling noise.
Like a small earthquake
“My first impression was I thought we were having a small earthquake. The barn was vibrating,” the semi-retired wildlife toxicologist told Agence France-Presse.