(Reuters) – Rescue workers sifted through mucky rubble on Tuesday amid dwindling hopes of finding any more survivors from among scores of people still missing from a devastating weekend mudslide in Washington state that killed at least 14.
About a dozen workers searched overnight for as many as 176 people who have been reported missing since a rain-soaked hillside collapsed on Saturday morning, swallowing dozens of homes near Oso, Snohomish County Executive John Lovick said.
Compounding their sense of urgency was a fear of flooding as water levels rose behind a crude dam of mud and rubble that had been dumped into the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River by the slide in an area along State Route 530, about 55 miles northeast of Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest state.
Authorities said they were hoping the number of people listed as missing would decline as they had perhaps been double-counted or had been slow to alert family and officials about their whereabouts.
The rescuers had failed to locate any more people in the rubble early on Tuesday.
John Pennington, Snohomish County’s director of emergency management, said that after three days, the operation is shifting from a rescue operation to a recovery mission.
“I never lose faith and a lot of the people in this community will never lose faith, but there’s a realism element that’s entered in,” he told NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday.
READ MORE: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/25/us-usa-mudslide-washingtonstate-idUSBREA2L0R020140325