A Washington landslide Saturday buried homes and cars under mud and debris up to 15 feet deep and also claimed the lives of eight people. Eighteen people are missing at this time, authorities said on Sunday.
Eight people were also injured when the drenched embankments along State Route 530 near Oso, Washington, approximately 55 miles northeast of Seattle, gave way on Saturday morning and washed out at least six homes.
A spokesperson for the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Office said a total of eight bodies have been recovered in the square mile (2.6 square km) of scattered debris, rocks, trees, and mud by nightfall.
“We didn’t find anybody alive. There was no sign of life,” Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots told an earlier news conference.
The number of missing will likely grow, Hots said. The rescue mission was called off for the day around dusk because of treacherous, quicksand-like conditions, and will resume at dawn on Monday, Hots said.
Some rescue workers have been up to their armpits in mud and had to be dragged to safety, authorities said.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee flew over the damage on Sunday. He said in the news conference, “I have a sense that we’re going to have some hard news here.”
The Washington landslide in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains along the Stillaguamish River piled up mud, debris, and rock up to 15 feet deep in some spots. It in turn blocked the flow of the river, creating floods and a backup of water behind a natural dam of mud and debris, but the threat to people downriver had begun to ease, Inslee said.
The Snohomish County sheriff’s office has asked people who have been affected by the Washington landslide to report to the Red Cross so they have an accurate count of the missing.