(OSO, Wash.) — More than 200 emergency responders kept up the grim search Wednesday for more victims of last weekend’s landslide near the small community of Oso, Wash.
As of early Thursday, the number of known dead was 25 with an estimated 90 people still missing or unaccounted for.
Most of the area where 49 homes in a single neighborhood were enveloped by a mountain of mud is covered in what’s described as gray muck that makes locating bodies more difficult.
Some say the scene recalls the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens with mounds of sediment as high as 15 feet.
In addition to those on the ground, National Guard helicopters are assisting in the removal of bodies while ambulances stand by in case any emergency responders are injured during the mission.
Meanwhile, Snohomish County officials continue to fend off criticism that the community now under mud should have never been there in the first place, given that it was situated in a slide zone on the banks of the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.
Department of Emergency Management chief John Pennington again said that the county did its best to reduce the risk of preventing smaller slides following a large one in 2006.
According to Pennington, “the community felt safe” as residents understood that there was no guarantee more slides wouldn’t occur. Just the same, Pennington admitted that preventing “a landslide of this magnitude” was probably impossible.
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Eugene Scott, CNN
Steve Almasy and Nick Valencia, CNN
Madeline Holcombe, CNN
Christopher Dawson, CNN