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OSO Update: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:11 a.m.


March 26, 2014

Photo Courtesy: Google Images

Local, state and federal crews to search Oso slide

The latest:

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, the death toll remained at 14. There are 176 reports of people missing. Those numbers are expected to change during the day. Call 425-388-5088 or email to report someone missing or someone safe.

No more survivors were found overnight.

Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennigton says a 1.1 magnitude earthquake hit near the surface 100 yards behind the slide on March 10.

Officials say they are still in both a rescue and a recovery mode.

Hundreds of personnel from the local, state and federal levels are part of the search operation.

Officials do not want any more volunteers. The volunteers they have are residents of the Darrington and Oso areas and are in the database of emergency responders.

Mountain Loop Highway will be reopened Tuesday, but it will be mountainous with areas of gravel.

Phone and Internet service has returned to Darrington.

DARRINGTON, Wash. - People living in the tiny village destroyed by a mudslide knew there was a "high risk" of slides, a local official said Tuesday.

John Pennington, director of Snohomish County Emergency Management director, said the death toll from Saturday's tragedy remained at 14. Scores more people were reported missing, but he would not estimate how many bodies were still buried in the tons of mud and crumpled homes in Oso, about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

Pennington acknowledged that the chances of finding survivors was small, but said the effort remained a rescue and recovery operation.

"I've said it before-- I believe in miracles," he said. "I believe that people can survive these events."

"We are going to do everything that we can, with our capabilities, to recover every single person. That's no guarantee that we're going to get everybody, but we are going to do our very best to get everybody out of there," said District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots.

Donate to the Red Cross through Northwest Response

Call center to report missing

County officials are encouraging people who have reported someone missing on social media or a website, including people who are safe, to call a Snohomish County hot line at 425-388-5088 so officials can update their database. People can also email updates to It will help if you can send a photo.

Those who are safe are also asked to call or email. The call center can only take information. It cannot answer questions.

The collapse followed weeks of heavy rain. Still, Pennington had previously described the disaster as "completely unforeseen." The Seattle Times, however, reported this week that multiple geological reports had warned that the area was at risk.

"No language seems more prescient than what appears in a 1999 report filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, warning of 'the potential for a large catastrophic failure,'" the Times reported.

Lynne Rodgers Miller, who wrote the report with her husband Daniel, told the Times that when she saw the news of the mudslide Saturday morning, she knew immediately where the land had given way.

"We've known it would happen at some point," he told newspaper. "We just didn't know when."

Pennington said he was focused on the rescue operation and had not seen the Times report.

"There will be a time to address that," he said, adding that a small earthquake, measuring 1.1, had apparently struck behind the slide on March 10.

President Obama signed an emergency declaration ordering federal aid to the area. The National Guard was on the scene.

"I would just ask all Americans to send their thoughts and prayers to Washington state," Obama said, speaking from the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague, Netherlands.

The landslide, which consumed a community of almost 50 homes, covers an 1-square mile area. Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin thanked people for the outpouring of support Tuesday, adding that no additional volunteer help was needed.

"We have a perfect team in place to start this process and really kick it into high gear, so we don't need more volunteers," said Pennington.

Photo Courtesy: Google Images

Eric Jonas of Lake Stevens was one of the people who showed up early to lend a hand. That could include the discovery of more victims.

"I've never had to deal with anything like that before, but they need help," Jonas said. "There could be some people alive out there."

by Elizabeth Weise, Janet Kim and John Bacon, USA TODAY and KING 5 News

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 6:39 AM

Updated today at 11:11 AM


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