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US Landslide Death Toll Grows

  • Zlatica Hoke

The death toll from a large landslide in the western U.S. state of Washington has reached 24, and rescue workers are continuing their search for about 90 people who are still missing. The prospects of finding more survivors are slim.

Relatives of the missing have come from all over the country to help in the search. The state of Washington has sent members of the national guard to help, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has dispatched rescue experts to the slide area near the town of Oso, about 90 kilometers northeast of Seattle.

Local police and fire departments have used sniffer dogs, helicopters and technical equipment such as sonar to reinforce search and rescue efforts. Travis Hots, a local fire chief, said on Wednesday there were about 200 people searching.

"We had a very challenging day today with the rain and whole the complicated things. We continue our search and recovery operation on the entire slide area. Unfortunately we didn't find signs of life, we didn't locate anybody alive, and that is a very disappointing part," said Hots.

"It's hard to see your house in pieces this big, and that's what it is," said Jerry Farnes, a survivor.

The landslide hit without warning Saturday, when a hillside near Oso collapsed after several weeks of heavy rains. In some places of the soupy terrain, the mud is 4.5 meters deep. The landslide is considered one of the worst ever in the United States.
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