Washington slide death toll 14; search continues

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Washington slide death toll 14; search continues
Marine One helicopter, carrying President Barack Obama, takes an aerial tour of Oso, Wash., Tuesday, April 22, 2014, above the site of the deadly mudslide that struck the community in March. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Marine One, carrying President Barack Obama, takes an aerial tour of Oso, Wash., Tuesday, April 22, 2014, the site of the deadly mudslide that struck the community in March. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)
President Barack Obama walks from the Marine One helicopter with Col. Preston Williamson, vice commander, 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.,to board of Air Force One, Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md, en route to Oso, Wash., the site of the deadly mudslide that struck the community. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama boards Air Force One, Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md, en route to Oso, Wash., the site of the deadly mudslide that struck the community. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Brande Taylor, left, and her partner Matt Ingison wave flags and take photos as President Barack Obama's motorcade drives past Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Oso, Wash. Obama was visiting the area about an hour northeast of Seattle to survey damage from a recent mudslide nearby that killed more than three dozen people. The deadly March 22 mudslide killed at least 41 people and buried dozens of homes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A flag sticks out of a hole in a demolished home near where a deadly mudslide from the hill behind that happened several days earlier ended, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Arlington, Wash. At least 14 people were killed in the 1-square-mile slide that hit in a rural area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle on Saturday. Several people also were critically injured, and homes were destroyed. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The remains of a house and of a boat lie with other debris following a deadly mudslide, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Oso, Wash. At least 14 people were killed in the 1-square-mile slide that hit in a rural area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle on Saturday. Several people also were critically injured, and homes were destroyed. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Teresa Welter cries as she holds a candle Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at a candlelight vigil in Arlington, Wash., for the victims of a massive mudslide that struck the nearby community of Oso, Wash., on Saturday, killing at least 16 people and leaving dozens missing. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 25: Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots speaks to the media during a news conference on March 25, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 in nearby Oso, Washington killed at least sixteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)
OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)
Volunteers with chainsaws march down a rugged path toward the scene of a deadly mudslide that hit Saturday, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Arlington, Wash. At least 14 people were killed in the 1-square-mile slide that hit in a rural area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Several people also were critically injured, and homes were destroyed. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Elaine Young holds a Bible and photographs found in the debris of a mudslide near her home on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
OSA, WASHINGTON, USA - JULY 25, 2010: This is DigitalGlobe satellite imagery of the Osa, Washington MUDSLIDE area before the March 2014 tragedy. Imagery collected on July 25, 2010. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 23: In this handout from Washington State Dept of Transportation, an aerial view of a breach where water from the Stillaguamish River begins to move through the dam created March 23, 2014 between Darrington and Arlington, Washington. Eight people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide leveled homes and blocked a river and a road. (Photo by Washington State Dept of Transportation via Getty Images)
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 23: In this handout from Washington State Dept of Transportation, an aerial view of the hill that originated the mudslide March 23, 2014 between Darrington and Arlington, Washington. Eight people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide leveled homes and blocked a river and a road. (Photo by Washington State Dept of Transportation via Getty Images)
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 23: In this handout from Washington State Dept of Transportation, an aerial view of a breach where water from the Stillaguamish River begins to move through the dam created March 23, 2014 between Darrington and Arlington, Washington. Eight people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide leveled homes and blocked a river and a road. (Photo by Washington State Dept of Transportation via Getty Images)
DARRINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: Larry Taylor prepares to spend the night at a temporary Red Cross shelter at the Darrington Community Center in Darrington, Washington on Sunday, March 23, 2014. A massive mudslide in Oso, Washington killed at least eight and left many missing, while also blocking the waters of the Stillaguamish River and flooding Taylor's home. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
DARRINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: Kristopher Langton shares a moment with his son, Kristian Langton (5 months), at a temporary Red Cross shelter at the Darrington Community Center in Darrington, Washington on Sunday, March 23, 2014. A massive mudslide in Oso, Washington killed at least eight and left many missing, and Kristopher Langton was one of the first to arrive and offer aid. Against the wishes of authorities, Langton says he traveled more than a mile across the entire mudslide, wading through debris and mud that resembled quicksand to help rescue four adults and an infant. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: (NO SALES) A house sits destroyed in the mud on Highway 530 next to mile marker 37 on March 23, 2014 near Arlington, Washington. Four people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide in Oso, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times-Pool/Getty Images)
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from Washington State Dept of Transportation, an aerial view of the hill that originated the mudslide, the Stillaguamish River and SR 530 March 22, 2014 between Darrington and Arlington, Washington. Eight people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide leveled homes and blocked a river and a road. (Photo by Washington State Dept of Transportation via Getty Images)
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from the Washington State Patrol, people stand near a debris from a house that was hit by a mudslide on Highway 530 March 22, 2014 in Snohomish County, Washington. According to reports, 18 people are still missing after a mudslide killed three and injured another eight. The mudslide is said to measure a square mile and 15 feet deep in places. (Photo by Washington State Patrol via Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: (NO SALES) A house sits destroyed in the mud on Highway 530 next to mile marker 37 on March 23, 2014 near Arlington, Washington. Four people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide in Oso, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times-Pool/Getty Images)
The orange X on a house, destroyed in the mud, indicates it has been searched for people on Highway 530, Sunday, March 23, 2014 the day after a giant landslide occurred near Oso, Wash. Rescue crews searched into the night for survivors from a massive mudslide that killed at least three people, after hearing voices from the debris field pleading for help. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson, Pool)
Map locates mudslide in Snohomish County, Wash.
Snohomish County Sheriff officers monitor the scene a short ways up the road from the mudslide at mile 37 on Highway 530 on Sunday, March 23, 2014, the day after a giant landslide occurred near mile marker 37 near Oso, Washington. At least six homes have been washed away, with three people reported dead so far and at least eighteen missing. The nearby Stillaguamish River has been dammed up by 15-20 feet of debris as a result, creating more flooding concerns, as reported by KING 5 via the state hydrologist. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson, Pool)
A house is seen destroyed in the mud on Highway 530 next to mile marker 37 on Sunday, March 23, 2014, the day after a giant landslide occurred near mile marker 37 near Oso, Washington. At least six homes have been washed away, with three people reported dead so far and at least eighteen missing. The nearby Stillaguamish River has been dammed up by 15-20 feet of debris as a result, creating more flooding concerns, as reported by KING 5 via the state hydrologist. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson, Pool)
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OSO, Wash. (AP) -- The search for survivors of a deadly Washington state mudslide grew Monday to include scores of people who were still unaccounted for as the death toll from the wall of trees, rocks and debris that swept through a rural community rose to at least 14.

In struggle to find loved ones, family members and neighbors used chain saws and their bare hands to dig through wreckage that was tangled by the mud into broken piles.

Authorities said they were looking for more than 100 people who had not been heard from since the disaster about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. They predicted that the number of missing would decline as more people are found safe. But the startling initial length of the list added to the anxieties two days after a mile-wide layer of soft earth crashed onto a cluster of homes at the bottom of a river valley.

"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."

Search for Washington Mudslide Survivors Grows

Snohomish County sheriff's spokeswoman Shari Ireton said Monday afternoon search and rescue crews discovered an additional six bodies, bringing the number fatalities to at least 14.

About 30 houses were destroyed, and the debris blocked a mile-long stretch of state highway near Arlington.

Cory Kuntz and several volunteers worked Monday with chain saws to cut through the roof of his uncle's house, which was swept about 150 yards from its previous location. Kuntz said his aunt, Linda McPherson, was killed. He and the others pulled out files, his aunt's wallet and a box filled with pictures and slides.

"When you look at it, you just kind of go in shock, and you kind of go numb," he said, adding that there were more people out helping Sunday. On Monday, they couldn't get through roadblocks.

"They are all eager to get down here, but unfortunately they can't. It just shows how tight this community is," he said.

Doug Reuwsaat, who grew up in the area and was also helping in the search, said authorities had told people to stay away.

"We're related to a lot of these people from around here. So that's why we're here," he said.

The mudslide struck Saturday morning, a time when most people are at home. Of the 49 structures in the neighborhood, authorities believe at least 25 were full-time residences.

An overnight search of the debris field turned up no other bodies, Hots said. Monday's search was to include aircraft, dogs and heavy equipment.

Frustrations were growing as family members and neighbors waited for official word on the missing and the dead. Elaine Young and her neighbors uncovered several bodies Sunday and had to contact authorities to get them removed.

They also found a chocolate Labrador named Buddy alive, and helped pull the dog from the rubble, leading her to wonder if other survivors could be out there, desperate for help.

"If we found a dog alive yesterday afternoon that we cut out of a part of a house, doesn't that seem that maybe somebody could be stuck up under part of a house and be alive too?" asked Young, whose home survived the slide but was on the edge of the devastation.

Authorities believe Saturday's slide was caused by recent heavy rains that made the terrain unstable.

From the beginning, rescue crews on the ground have faced dangerous and unpredictable conditions as they navigated quicksand-like mud that was 15 feet deep in some places. Some who went in got caught up to their armpits in the thick, sticky sludge.

The threat of potential flash floods or another landslide also loomed over rescuers. On Monday, some crews had to pull back because of concern that a hillside could shift.

Retired firefighter Gail Moffett, who lives in Oso, said she knows about 25 people who are missing, including entire families with young children.

"It's safe to say I'll know everyone affected or who they are," Moffett said. "There's so much pain going on in the community right now."

Among the injured were a mother and her baby. Amanda Skorjanc, 25, was in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, spokeswoman Susan Gregg said. Her son, 22-week-old Duke Suddarth, remained in critical condition and was improving, Gregg said. Three other men were in serious condition.

Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington said the list of 108 names included construction workers who were working in the area and people just driving by. But, he cautioned, that does not necessarily mean there are dozens of additional fatalities. Three other patients remained in serious condition.

"It's a soft 108," Pennington said, explaining that the number would almost certainly fall as people are slowly located.

The spirits of search-and-rescue teams were raised late Saturday when they heard cries for help from the flotsam of trees, dirt and shattered wood. But no one else has been found alive.

The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, which is continuing to back up, officials said. Authorities said Monday at least seven homes are now flooded, and more flooding is expected.

Frequent, heavy rain and steep geography make the area prone to landslides. Less than a decade ago, another slide hit in the same general area.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as "a square mile of total devastation" after flying over the disaster area Sunday. He assured families that everything was being done to find their missing loved ones. Inslee said Monday that he had received assurances that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would help.

Barbara Welsh went to Monday's news briefing in Arlington to get more information. She said she has not seen her husband, William Welsh, since Saturday, when he went to help someone in Oso with a water tank.

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.

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Le reported from Seattle.

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Associated Press writers Lisa Baumann in Arlington and Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle contributed to this report.

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