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OSO Update: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 9:00am


March 26, 2014

Photo Courtesy: Google Images

The latest:

Darrington's mayor is thankful for the outpouring of support, but is asking for no more volunteers at this time.

The death toll stands at 14

There are 176 reports of people missing, but some of those names may be duplicates.

Call 425-388-5088 or email to report someone missing or someone safe.

An update from the command post is scheduled for 9 a.m. today.

Pres. Obama has signed an emergency declaration, ordering federal aid to the area.

Phone and Internet service has returned to Darrington.

Students return to classes in Darrington today.

The state geologist says the 1-square-mile mudslide is "one of the largest landslides he's seen." It's 1,500 feet long, 600 feet tall, 4,400 feet wide. The debris is about 30-40 feet deep.

ARLINGTON, WASH. - Search crews looked to resume their careful rescue efforts Tuesday morning near the town of Oso, a tiny rural community nearly wiped away by a massive landslide on Saturday.

As of Monday night there were 14 known fatalities after six additional bodies were located. That number is expected to rise in the coming days.

Snohomish County officials had collected 176 names of people who remain unaccounted for after the devastating landslide.

"I'd like to reiterate that it's not that there are 176 people missing, we simply have 176 reports," said John Pennington, Snohomish County Emergency Management director.

Many of those reports may be duplicates. One might be about a John Doe at a certain address, another about a "John with brown hair who's 56," for example, Pennington said. Officials are trying to reconcile the reports to get a better handle on how many individuals are actually missing.

"We're trying to whittle that down," said Pennington.

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.

Search efforts will resume Tuesday morning, though they may be hampered by rain, which brings the threat of flash floods or another landslide.

"The rain is going to come whether we want it to or not," said Pennington. "The main thing for us is to continue to watch the hillside, continue to look downstream, see how the water is going to find it's way out."

President Barack Obama, who is attending a Nuclear Security Summit in The Netherlands, is asking Americans to send their thoughts and prayers to Washington state as search operations continue following a devastating mudslide.

"We hope for the best, but we recognize this is a tough situation," said Obama.

Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin thanked people for the outpouring of support Tuesay, but asked that nobody else show up to volunteer.

Eric Jonas of Lake Stevens was one of the people who showed up early Tuesday morning to lend a hand, which may include the discovery of more victims.

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

The landslide, which consumed a community of almost 50 homes, covers an 1-square mile area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

"Our crews are up against an enormous challenge, it's like quicksand out there," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said from a makeshift podium outside the Arlington, Wash ., police station Monday night.

Crews have to move extremely carefully as they work. "Some of my guys could only go 50 feet in five minutes," because of the debris and danger of being sucked into the mud.

Search and rescue teams had to pull back Monday because of concern about the hillside moving, Pennington said. There were dozens of teams on the scene and more were coming.

"We should have additional search capabilities through the National Guard for our rescue and extraction efforts. We will also have a boost in our incident command structure, and we will most probably have an additional urban search and rescue team to be on site as soon as tomorrow," said Gov. Jay Inslee.

"We've got earth-moving equipment and we've got lots of people with local knowledge of that specific area," said Hots. That has been helpful as they can point out homes that were not occupied so researchers could focus on areas where people might be trapped.

Photo Courtesy: Google Images

Pennington paused when asked whether there might still be survivors.

"Most of us in these communities believe we will not find anyone alive. But I am a man of faith and I believe in miracles."

by Elizabeth Weise, USATODAY and KING 5 News

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 6:39 AM

Updated today at 8:26 AM


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