DARRINGTON, Wash. -- Snohomish County search and rescue crews have located an additional six bodies, bringing the total number of deceased to 14 in Saturday's massive landslide.
According to county spokesperson Shari Ireton, the number unaccounted for has not changed, as the identity of the victims still needs to be verified.
Earlier Monday, emergency officials said they received 108 reports of names of people missing or unaccounted for after the mudslide hit the rural area, primarily affecting the communities of Oso and Darrington.
The size of the list raised concerns the death toll would rise far above the 14 people who have been confirmed dead after the 1-square-mile slide Saturday swept through part the area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.
Several people also were critically injured. About 30 homes were destroyed, and the debris blocked a 1-mile stretch of State Route 530.
"The situation is very grim," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said, stressing that authorities are still in rescue mode and are holding out hope. But he noted: "We have not found anyone alive on this pile since Saturday."
A 1-square-mile mudslide swept through the area about 55 miles north of Seattle. The list of people who've been reported missing or who are unaccounted for contains 108 reports of names, but authorities say that figure will probably decline dramatically.
Among the possible missing are construction workers coming into the neighborhood and people just driving by. Snohomish County Emergency Management director John Pennington said the slide occurred on a Saturday morning, when more people were likely to be home. Of the 49 structures in the neighborhood hit by the slide, authorities believe at least 25 were occupied full time.
Although there are 108 reports of names of people who are missing or unaccounted for, Pennington wanted it to be made clear that does not necessarily mean there are actually 108 people deceased or injured. He said those were just the names reported. Some of the reports are very specific while others are vague.
“In some cases, that list is very detailed. It’s ‘John, who has brown hair, blue eyes and lived in this particular neighborhood.’ In a lot of cases, it’s a name like Frank, ‘I met him once. I think he lived over there,’” said Pennington.
In addition to those killed, several people were critically injured. About 30 homes were destroyed. The debris is blocking a 1-mile stretch of state highway.
Authorities believe the slide was caused by ground that was made unstable by recent heavy rainfall.
Call center to report missing
Pennington also said the county is trying to streamline the effort to find out who is missing. The county wants anyone who is reporting someone missing or unaccounted for to call the Department of Emergency Management call center at 425-388-5088. That number should be called regardless of whether that person has already been reported missing to another phone number, website or social media.
Those who are safe are also asked to call 425-388-5088.
The call center can only take information, said Pennington. It cannot answer questions.
Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said no more bodies were found overnight Sunday into Monday. He said the ground remained unstable.
"The situation is very grim," said Hots.
He stressed that authorities are still in rescue mode and are holding out hope. But he noted: "We have not found anyone alive on this pile since Saturday."
More local and federal resources are being brought in to help, including personnel, aircraft, search dogs and technical rescue experts. The Washington State Department of Transportation is also bringing in heavy equipment to clear the mud.
Slide still moving
Search and rescuers were pulled away from the west side of the slide Monday morning due to concerns about the hillside moving at the 600-foot level. Snohomish County also urged people to stay away from the mudslide area.
Darrington Fire Chief Dennis Fenstermaker said the slide is separated into a six grid system with searchers assigned to each area.
“We are looking for live victims. We are not spending a whole lot of time, so it has to be quick and thorough, but we are trying to move through and make sure there is nobody in those areas,” said Fenstermaker.
Pennington said there were 49 parcels of land in the slide area that had homes, RVs or a cabin in the slide area. Twenty-five of those were occupied full-time and ten were occupied part-time or vacation homes. Information on the others was not known Monday morning.
Resources coming to Darrington include a reader board that will send out an AM radio broadcast with updated information.
“We will use every federal resource available to help support Snohomish County, the city of Darrington, the community of Oso and the individual families who were affected by this,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington.
Cantwell said FEMA and the U.S. Department of Transportation have been called in to help with resources.
The 1-square-mile slide critically injured several people -- including an infant -- and destroyed about 30 homes. Authorities believe the slide was caused by ground made unstable by recent heavy rainfall.
The North Fork of the Stillaguamish River continued to back up Monday morning. At least seven homes were flooded and more were expected to flood. Snohomish County said water was trickling through the slide and creating a new river channel.