Mudslide death toll to rise sharply as 90 still missing
The death toll from a massive mudslide in the US is expected to climb sharply over the next two days, with 90 people still missing, authorities said yesterday, even as they held out the hope of finding at least one more survivor.
The number of known dead stood at 25, five days after a rain-soaked hillside collapsed without warning, unleashing a wall of mud that engulfed dozens of homes in a river valley near the rural town of Oso, north-east of Seattle in Washington state.
Only the first 16 victims recovered and examined by coroners have so far been officially counted as dead, and local fire district chief Travis Hots told a news conference that figure would soon spike upwards.
Nine more bodies that have since been found have yet to be included in the official toll.
"In the next 24 to 48 hours, as the medical examiner's office catches up with the difficult work that they have to do, you're going to see these numbers increase substantially," he said.
Authorities said there was little chance of finding any more survivors in the square-mile heap of muck and debris.