UK & World News

  • 29 March 2014, 6:18

Mudslide: 'Difficult' Search For Bodies Goes On

Rescue workers searching for victims of a devastating mudslide in Washington state have admitted they "cannot say when or if more bodies will be found".

So far, 17 people, including a four-month-old baby, have been confirmed dead by the medical examiner's office.

Another body was pulled from the rubble on Friday afternoon and at least eight more are yet to be recovered, a week after the mudslide swept through the tiny community of Oso, about 55 miles (90km) north of Seattle.

Details of any distinguishing features of the 90 people still missing have been taken from their relatives to help authorities identify further victims.

Gary Haakenson, Snohomish County executive director, said search teams were working in a "very, very difficult environment".

"We cannot say how long this will last and when or if they will find more bodies," he said.

"We want to continue to hold out hope but we have to, at some point, prepare for the worst."

Local mayor Barbara Tolbert added: "I cannot express how difficult it is for the rescuers. They're searching for their friends and family members.

"Our crews are weary and they're tired but they're doing a fantastic job.

"This community will be healing for a very long time and we're so thankful for the support we've had."

An estimated 180 people lived in the path of the mudslide, which covered Oso when a rain-soaked hillside collapsed.

Scientists believe there were two slides about four minutes apart during the disaster, with smaller slips continuing for days.