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March 26, 2014

US Mudslide Death Toll at 24, Scores Missing

by VOA News

The death toll from last weekend's devastating mudslide in the western U.S. state of Washington has reached 24, but rescue workers are continuing their search for survivors.

More than 200 searchers picked their way through tons of mud, the remnants of houses and twisted cars for a fifth day Wednesday, looking and listening for signs of life. But with the quicksand-like mud, rescue leader Travis Hots said the search is difficult.

"It is slow going," he said. "It could take you about five minutes to walk 40 feet. And then you have got nails sticking out of the ground and things that can hurt you."

A total of 176 people continue to be listed as missing, although authorities say the list may include duplicate names or people who are alive, but whose whereabouts are unknown.

Rescue crews are using heavy equipment, high-tech cameras, search dogs and their bare hands to search the rubble for possible survivors and victims.

Last Saturday's landslide struck without warning when a hillside near the small town of Oso collapsed after several weeks of heavy rains.

On Tuesday, the Seattle Times newspaper published a report written by a geologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1999 that warned of the potential of "catastrophic failure" in the area affected by Saturday's landslide.
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Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.