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March 27, 2014

US Mudslide Death Toll Expected to Increase Significantly

by VOA News

The death toll from a devastating U.S. mudslide is already 25, but a rescue leader says the number of victims is likely to soon increase substantially.

A fire chief in the western state of Washington, Travis Hots, said Thursday that he expects the list of victims to lengthen considerably within the next two days as a medical examiner works to identify bodies already found in the mass of mud, trees and debris.

Authorities say that 90 people are unaccounted for and some may never be found. Saturday's sudden landslide cascaded through the rural enclave of Oso, north of the city of Seattle.

More than 200 rescue workers have been sifting through the quicksand-like mud littered with the remnants of 49 houses, twisted cars and the personal belongings of people who lived there.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, who represents the area, visited the site Wednesday and described the devastation.

"This disaster is so enormous, I sometimes think that even pictures don't always do it justice," she said. "The number of families that have been impacted, the number of people that they've lost, the number of people who are still missing. It's truly, truly heartbreaking."

Crews are using heavy equipment, high-tech cameras, search dogs and their bare hands to search and dig through the rubble in the search for possible survivors and victims. No one has been found alive since Saturday.
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Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.