Voices crying for help stop in Washington mudslide - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Voices crying for help stop in Washington mudslide

Posted: Updated:
ARLINGTON, Wash. (AP) -

Voices of people crying for help in the wreckage of a deadly Washington state mudslide have stopped, and hopes of finding any more survivors waned as searchers pulled more bodies from the tangled debris field and crews worked through the night into Monday.

At least eight people were killed in the 1-square-mile slide that hit just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

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. Their spirits had been raised late Saturday night when they heard the cries for help from the flotsam of trees, dirt and wreckage. Dangerous conditions forced them to turn back in the darkness, but they resumed their work at first light Sunday.

"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."

Snohomish County sheriff's Lt. Rob Palmer said four more bodies were discovered late Sunday. Earlier in the day, authorities said one body had been found on the debris field in a rural area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Three people were already confirmed dead on Saturday.

More people remained missing, and authorities said the number was "fluid." Earlier Sunday, they said it was at least 18, but that count came before additional bodies were discovered.

Several people were also critically injured -- including an infant -- and about 30 homes were destroyed.

Crews were able to get to the soupy, tree-strewn area that was 15-feet deep in places Sunday after geologists flew over in a helicopter and determined it was safe enough for emergency responders and technical rescue personnel to search for possible survivors, Hots said.

He added that they did not search the entire debris field, only drier areas safe to traverse. Hots said crews were still in a "search and rescue mode. It has not gone to a recovery mode at this time."

Before crews could get onto the debris field late Sunday morning, they looked for people by helicopter.

The slide wiped through what neighbors described as a former fishing village of small homes -- some nearly 100 years old.

Officials described the mudslide as "a big wall of mud and debris." It blocked about a mile of State Route 530 near the town of Oso, about 55 miles north of Seattle. Both frequent, heavy rainfall and geography make this area of Washington prone to landslides. Less than a decade ago, another significant slide hit in the same general area. Geologists and other experts said the Stillaguamish River likely caused some erosion in the area that was carved by glaciers.

Authorities believe Saturday's 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, and the evacuation notice was lifted.

Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County sheriff's office, said Sunday that eight people were injured in the slide.

A 6-month-old boy and an 81-year-old man remained in critical condition Sunday morning at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said two men, ages 37 and 58, were in serious condition, while a 25-year-old woman was upgraded to satisfactory condition.

Bruce Blacker, who lives just west of the slide, doesn't know the whereabouts of six neighbors.

"It's a very close-knit community," Blacker said as he waited at an Arlington roadblock before troopers let him through.

Search-and-rescue help came from around the region, including the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers. More than 100 were at the scene.

Dane Williams, 30, who lives a few miles from the mudslide, spent Saturday night at a Red Cross shelter at the Arlington school.

He said he saw a few "pretty distraught" people at the shelter who didn't know the fate of loved ones who live in the stricken area.

"It makes me want to cry," Williams said.

Hots said searchers would continue their efforts through the difficult debris field.

"There may be people in their cars, there may be people in houses," he said.


  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • Obama to Europe: NATO to oppose Russian aggression

    Obama to Europe: NATO to oppose Russian aggression

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:44:35 GMT
    Confronted by a Kremlin-backed military offensive in Ukraine, President Barack Obama and Western allies will approve plans this week to position at least 4,000 troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe,...[more]
    Confronted by a Kremlin-backed military offensive in Ukraine, President Barack Obama and Western allies will approve plans this week to position at least 4,000 troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe, bolstering...[more]
  • Video purports to show beheading of US journalist

    Video purports to show beheading of US journalist

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:23 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:23:08 GMT
    The World Food Program says it provided food to a record 4.1 million people inside Syria last month.[more]
    Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warning President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. airstrikes against the militant...[more]
  • Report accuses Islamic State group of war crimes

    Report accuses Islamic State group of war crimes

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:24 PM EDT2014-09-03 02:24:18 GMT
    Amnesty International has accused the militant Islamic State group of carrying out a systematic campaign of mass killings, abductions and ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq that could amount to war crimes.[more]
    An international rights group accused the extremist Islamic State group on Tuesday of systematic "ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq targeting indigenous religious minorities, as well as conducting mass killings of men and...[more]
  • Stay Connected

  • Like Us on Facebook
  • Follow Us on Twitter
Powered by WorldNow

WHDH TV 7NBC WLVI TV CW56
Sunbeam Television Corp
7 Bulfinch Place
Boston, MA 02114

News Tips: (800) 280-TIPS
Tell Hank: (855) 247-HANK
Corporate Media Services: (800) 642-1551

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WHDH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.