1 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

More than 100 people remain missing after a massive mudslide that hit rural Snohomish County, emergency officials said Monday.

Searchers don't expect to find any more survivors from Saturday's mudslide that killed at least eight people and is estimated to contain 15 million cubic yards of debris.

"We're still in rescue mode at this time, but the situation is very grim," said Chief Travis Hots of Snohomish County Fire District 21. "We have not found anybody still alive on this pile since Saturday."

Teams took to the air in helicopters and the ground on foot Sunday looking for anyone who might still be alive. Their spirits had been raised late Saturday when they heard voices calling for help from the flotsam of trees, dirt and wreckage. Dangerous conditions forced them to turn back in the darkness, but they resumed their work at first light Sunday.

"We didn't see or hear any signs of life out there today," Hots said Sunday. "It's very disappointing to all emergency responders on scene." Sunrise on Monday was 6:59 a.m. PT; sunset will be at 7:27 p.m.

Authorities assembled Monday's list of 108 missing and unaccounted people for over the course of the past two days, and it includes some vague information, said John Pennington, Snohomish County emergency management director.

County officials are encouraging people in the area who have reported someone missing on social media or a website to call a Snohomish County hot line so officials can update their database. They expect the number of people missing to decrease during the day.

Four bodies were discovered late Sunday, Sheriff's Lt. Rob Palmer of Snohomish County said. Earlier in the day, one body had been found on the debris field. Three people were confirmed dead Saturday after the 11 a.m. PT slide.

The 1-square-mile slide also critically injured several people — including an infant — and destroyed about 30 homes.

The soupy, tree-strewn area has mud that is 15 feet deep in places. Crews were able to get there Sunday after geologists flew over in a helicopter and determined it was safe enough for emergency responders and technical rescue personnel to search for possible survivors, Hots said.

Rescuers did not search the entire debris field, only drier areas safe to traverse. Before crews could get onto the debris field late Sunday morning, they looked for people by helicopter.

"We have this huge square-mile mudflow that's basically like quicksand," Hots said.

The slide wiped through what neighbors described as a former fishing village of small homes, some nearly 100 years old.

Officials described the slide as a big wall of mud and debris. It blocked about a mile of Washington 530 near the town of Oso, which has less than 200 residents about 55 miles north of Seattle.

Ground made unstable in recent heavy rainfall likely caused the slide, authorities said.

In the past 45 days, the area has had double its normal rainfall, at least 15 inches higher than normal, according to the National Weather Service. The area had a similar landslide in 2006, and erosion from the rain had caused the base of the previous slide to weaken.

"This is a completely unforeseen slide," Pennington said Monday. "It happened in 2006, ... but this came out of nowhere. They had no warning."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as "a square mile of total devastation" after flying over the disaster area Sunday. He assured families that everything was being done to find their missing loved ones.

The 1,500-foot wide slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River and water pooling behind the debris flooded seven homes up to their eaves, Pennington said.

The water began to seep through the blockage Sunday afternoon, alleviating some concerns, and is starting to route around the debris.

"The river started cutting a new channel through," said Steve Thompson, Snohomish County public works director, using the stream bed it had been in before the 2006 landslide. "That's good news. It's doing what we expected it to do."

It's important to relieve the pressure behind the slide not only to keep more damage from occurring but also so rescuers can get into areas now under water and mud, he said. Five bridges are downstream from the slide, and personnel are monitoring to make sure that logs and other debris don't endanger their integrity.

The weather service continued its flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Monday afternoon.

Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County sheriff's office, said Sunday that eight people were injured in the slide.

Previous story

A 6-month-old boy and an 81-year-old man remained in critical condition Sunday at a Seattle hospital. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg of Harborview Medical Center said two men, ages 37 and 58, were in serious condition while a 25-year-old woman was upgraded to satisfactory condition.

Bruce Blacker, who lives just west of the slide, doesn't know the whereabouts of six neighbors.

"It's a very close-knit community," Blacker said as he waited at an Arlington roadblock before troopers let him through.

Search-and-rescue help came from around the region, including the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers. More than 100 were at the scene.

Dane Williams, 30, who lives a few miles from the mudslide, spent Saturday night at a Red Cross shelter at the Arlington school.

He said he saw a few "pretty distraught" people at the shelter who didn't know the fate of loved ones who live in the stricken area.

"It makes me want to cry," Williams said.

Hots said searchers would continue their efforts through the difficult debris field.

"There may be people in their cars, there may be people in houses," he said.

ARLINGTON, Wash. — Eight people are now confirmed dead after a massive landslide slammed into homes Saturday near Oso, Wash., authorities said Sunday.

Snohomish County sheriff's Lt. Rob Palmer said four more bodies were discovered late Sunday. Earlier in the day, authorities said one body had been found on the debris field. Three people were confirmed dead Saturday. Tod Gates, incident commander for the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team, also announced the new death toll at a community meeting Sunday.

More people still were missing, and authorities said the number was "fluid." Earlier Sunday, they said there were at least 18 people missing, but that was before the additional bodies were discovered.

Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said crews were able to get in on foot.

"We didn't see or hear any signs of life out there today so of course that's very disappointing to all of our emergency responders here on the scene," he said.

The entire debris field was not searched, Hots said, only the drier areas that were safe to traverse.

Despite that, Hots said crews were still in a "search and rescue mode. It has not gone to a recovery mode at this time."

The mudslide Saturday destroyed as many as 30 homes and forced evacuations of nearby areas out of fears of flooding.

The debris wall is 1.5 miles across and 15-20 feet deep in some places.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as "a square mile of total devastation" after flying over the disaster area Sunday. He assured families that everything was being done to find their missing loved ones.

"There is a full-scale, 100% aggressive rescue going on right now," he said.

The governor declared a state of emergency. He said he is talking with the Federal Emergency Management Agency about a federal disaster declaration.

Caroline Neal's 52-year-old father, Steven, is a plumber who took a service call Saturday morning to install a hot water heater on Steelhead Drive.

"My dad is a quick thinker and he is someone who takes action in an emergency. If he had any warning at all, we just have to think he is somewhere and he's safe and they just can't reach him right now," she said.

Hots said the number of missing could change because some people may have been in cars and on roads when the slide hit just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

The mud was so thick and deep that searchers turned back late Saturday after attempting to reach an area where voices were heard crying for help.

Rescuers couldn't hear any signs of life once they got closer, and the decision was made to back out for safety reasons, Hots said.

As authorities tried to determine how to get responders on the ground safely, helicopters were flying over the area looking for people who may have been able to get out on their own and for any other signs of life.

Hots said the slide debris has the consistency of quicksand.

The slide has blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.

"The mudflow is moving. We have a massive amount of water that is beginning to back up and has backed up since this thing blocked the river," Hots said.

People downstream from the blockage were advised to evacuate Saturday night but the evacuation recommendation was lifted Sunday because it didn't appear that there would be a massive breach all at once, rather it was trickling out.

Inslee addressed the issue during a news conference Sunday, saying "The conclusion that's been reached by the analysts is that the risk is not great enough to cause an evacuation and that the river will find its way through some kind of a graded channel over the days and weeks to come to be relieved."

The cause of the slide is believed to be groundwater saturation from heavy rainfall this month.

"It sounds very realistic with all the rain earlier in the month," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert said. "There hasn't been much precipitation in the last few days."

Everett, Wash., 31 miles southwest of Oso, has had 5.64 inches of rain this month — more than 2.5 times what the city typically receives in March, AccuWeather reported.

First responders in Snohomish County, Wash., called it the worst natural disaster they've seen in decades.

"Think back to what Mount St. Helens and Toutle River looked like, and that's what we're looking at," said Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Contributing: Doyle Rice in McLean, Va.; William M. Welch in Los Angeles; The Associated Press

Previous Story:

ARLINGTON, Wash. — Eighteen people remained unaccounted for Sunday, authorities say, after a massive mudslide in Washington state Saturday killed at least three people and forced evacuations because of fears of flooding.

But officials said that number is "fluid."

The slide has blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.

"The mudflow is moving, we have a massive amount of water that is beginning to back up and has backed up since this thing blocked the river," said Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots.

Hots said the slide debris has the consistency of "quicksand" and rescuers can't go back in until they get a better assessment of the conditions. Searchers had to turn back late Saturday after attempting a rescue in an area where signs of life were heard.

People downstream from the blockage were advised to evacuate Saturday night but the evacuation recommendation was lifted for daylight hours.

Director of Emergency Management John Pennington said the situation is a "disaster within a disaster."

"We really have two disaster operations going — one that has occurred and the unique thing about this event is that there is another event that most likely can occur," said Pennington.

Pennington asked that people continue to heed warnings.

"Treat this as if you would any large flood warning in Snohomish County," he said. "We're really good at this in this county; in this case it's a very serious issue."

Authorities are using helicopters, and plan to drop rescuers into areas if they find signs of life.

The slide has blocked about a mile of a state highway. Several people — including an infant — were critically injured and at least 16 homes were destroyed.

First responders in Snohomish County, Wash., called it the worst slide, the worst natural disaster, they've seen in decades.

"Think back to what Mount St. Helens and Toutle River looked like — and that's what we're looking at," said Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

The National Weather Service said the river level dropped from 3.1 feet to 0.9 feet in the hour after the slide occurred, confirming the river was blocked by the slide.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Hots said the number of missing could change because some people may have been in cars and on roads when the slide hit just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

The mud was so thick and deep that searchers turned back late Saturday after attempting to reach an area where voices were heard crying for help.

Rescuers couldn't hear any signs of life once they got closer, and the decision was made to back out for safety reasons, Hots said.

As authorities tried to determine how to get responders on the ground safely, helicopters were flying over the area looking for people who may have been able to get out on their own and for any other signs of life.

Hots said the slide debris has the consistency of quicksand.

The slide has blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.

"The mudflow is moving. We have a massive amount of water that is beginning to back up and has backed up since this thing blocked the river," Hots said.

People downstream from the blockage were advised to evacuate Saturday night but the evacuation recommendation was lifted Sunday because it didn't appear that there would be a massive breach all at once, rather it was trickling out.

Inslee addressed the issue during a news conference Sunday, saying "The conclusion that's been reached by the analysts is that the risk is not great enough to cause an evacuation and that the river will find its way through some kind of a graded channel over the days and weeks to come to be relieved."

The cause of the slide is believed to be groundwater saturation from heavy rainfall this month.

"It sounds very realistic with all the rain earlier in the month," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert said. "There hasn't been much precipitation in the last few days."

Everett, Wash., 31 miles southwest of Oso, has had 5.64 inches of rain this month — more than 2.5 times what the city typically receives in March, AccuWeather reported.

First responders in Snohomish County, Wash., called it the worst natural disaster they've seen in decades.

"Think back to what Mount St. Helens and Toutle River looked like, and that's what we're looking at," said Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Contributing: Doyle Rice in McLean, Va.; William M. Welch in Los Angeles; The Associated Press

Hots said the number of missing could change because some people may have been in cars and on roads when the slide hit just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

The mud was so thick and deep that searchers turned back late Saturday after attempting to reach an area where voices were heard crying for help.

Rescuers couldn't hear any signs of life once they got closer, and the decision was made to back out for safety reasons, Hots said.

As authorities tried to determine how to get responders on the ground safely, helicopters were flying over the area looking for people who may have been able to get out on their own and for any other signs of life.

Hots said the slide debris has the consistency of quicksand.

The slide has blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.

"The mudflow is moving. We have a massive amount of water that is beginning to back up and has backed up since this thing blocked the river," Hots said.

People downstream from the blockage were advised to evacuate Saturday night but the evacuation recommendation was lifted Sunday because it didn't appear that there would be a massive breach all at once, rather it was trickling out.

Inslee addressed the issue during a news conference Sunday, saying "The conclusion that's been reached by the analysts is that the risk is not great enough to cause an evacuation and that the river will find its way through some kind of a graded channel over the days and weeks to come to be relieved."

The cause of the slide is believed to be groundwater saturation from heavy rainfall this month.

"It sounds very realistic with all the rain earlier in the month," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert said. "There hasn't been much precipitation in the last few days."

Everett, Wash., 31 miles southwest of Oso, has had 5.64 inches of rain this month — more than 2.5 times what the city typically receives in March, AccuWeather reported.

First responders in Snohomish County, Wash., called it the worst natural disaster they've seen in decades.

"Think back to what Mount St. Helens and Toutle River looked like, and that's what we're looking at," said Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Contributing: Doyle Rice in McLean, Va.; William M. Welch in Los Angeles; The Associated Press

Hots said the number of missing could change because some people may have been in cars and on roads when the slide hit just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

The mud was so thick and deep that searchers turned back late Saturday after attempting to reach an area where voices were heard crying for help.

Rescuers couldn't hear any signs of life once they got closer, and the decision was made to back out for safety reasons, Hots said.

As authorities tried to determine how to get responders on the ground safely, helicopters were flying over the area looking for people who may have been able to get out on their own and for any other signs of life.

Hots said the slide debris has the consistency of quicksand.

The slide has blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.

"The mudflow is moving. We have a massive amount of water that is beginning to back up and has backed up since this thing blocked the river," Hots said.

People downstream from the blockage were advised to evacuate Saturday night but the evacuation recommendation was lifted Sunday because it didn't appear that there would be a massive breach all at once, rather it was trickling out.

Inslee addressed the issue during a news conference Sunday, saying "The conclusion that's been reached by the analysts is that the risk is not great enough to cause an evacuation and that the river will find its way through some kind of a graded channel over the days and weeks to come to be relieved."

The cause of the slide is believed to be groundwater saturation from heavy rainfall this month.

"It sounds very realistic with all the rain earlier in the month," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert said. "There hasn't been much precipitation in the last few days."

Everett, Wash., 31 miles southwest of Oso, has had 5.64 inches of rain this month — more than 2.5 times what the city typically receives in March, AccuWeather reported.

First responders in Snohomish County, Wash., called it the worst natural disaster they've seen in decades.

"Think back to what Mount St. Helens and Toutle River looked like, and that's what we're looking at," said Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Contributing: Doyle Rice in McLean, Va.; William M. Welch in Los Angeles; The Associated Press

1 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wbir.com/1m0ZlrK