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Updated: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:56:43 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Washington mudslide: 108 reports of missing people



Washington state Governor Jay Inslee surveys the area of the mudslide near Oso, Wash. on his way to Darrington, which was cut off from Arlington when Route 530 became blocked by debris. GovInslee/Flickr

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee surveys the area of the mudslide near Oso, Wash. on his way to Darrington, which was cut off from Arlington when Route 530 became blocked by debris. GovInslee/Flickr

Officials in Washington state say they have 108 reports of people who are missing and unaccounted for, following the deadly mudslide that stuck a rural community in Snohomish County Saturday morning.

The 2.6-square-kilometre slide destroyed about 49 structures when a wall of mud and debris swept across 1.5 kilometres of State Route 530 near the community of Oso, about 88 kilometres north of Seattle and roughly 200 kilometres southeast of Vancouver.

So far, officials have confirmed that eight people were killed and eight people were injured, but many more are feared dead.

Snohomish County spokesman John Pennington said Monday morning that officials worked through the night to consolidate reports of missing people collected by various agencies, and now have a list of 108 individuals.

He stressed that it's a "soft 108" and represents all the reports received by various agencies, that some reports are vague — like "Frank" or "John with brown hair — and that there may be duplicates in the list.

"We have 108 individual names, or individual identities," he said. "The number is, I think, no questions, going to decline dramatically... but it's what we're working with."

Pennington said there were also 108 lots that were examined in the area of the slide. Records show that only 49 of those properties were known to have structures of some kind on them.

Of those, 25 were permanent built homes, 10 were part-time or vacation homes, 13 were trailers or RVs, and one was a cabin.

Pennington said there may also be additional people missing who have not been reported, as there were reports of construction workers being in the area and also likely drivers on the stretch of Route 530 that was buried.

Members of the public who could be on that list are asked to check in with the emergency call centre at 1-425-388-5088.

No survivors found Sunday

Search and rescue teams took to the air in helicopters and the ground on foot on Sunday looking for anyone who might still be alive, but hope of finding any more survivors from the massive mudslide waned as crews worked through the night into Monday.

"We didn't see or hear any signs of life out there today," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said. "It's very disappointing to all emergency responders on scene."

Authorities believe the slide was caused by ground made unstable by recent heavy rainfall.

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

The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

With the water pooling behind the debris, authorities worried about downstream flooding and issued an evacuation notice Saturday.

The water had begun to seep through the blockage Sunday afternoon, alleviating some concerns.

Snohomish County officials said Sunday that residents could return home during daylight hours. Even though the evacuation had been lifted, Inslee urged residents to remain alert.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Monday afternoon.

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