ARLINGTON, Wash. — The number of the missing in Washington’s massive mudslide rose to 176 on Monday evening, officials said, hours after the confirmed death toll grew to 14.
Six more bodies were found Monday in addition to the eight Saturday and Sunday. The mudslide struck Saturday morning near the tiny town of Oso, about an hour north of Seattle, wiping out about 30 homes and inundating Highway 530 with destruction.
If there was good news, it was that the number of missing could include duplications. Officials said they were trying to synchronize their lists to figure out how much overlap there was.
Despite rescuers’ efforts, no survivors have been found since Saturday. Voices had been heard in the square-mile debris field Saturday night, but rescuers had to retreat because of danger to their own lives. By Sunday, the voices had fallen silent.
President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration Monday, which authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate help for the victims.
Officials said early Monday that they had preliminary reports of 108 missing people, but cautioned that the number was “soft” and would probably change.
“This number is going to decline dramatically. ... Some [reports of the missing] are as detailed as ‘John with brown hair and blue eyes who lived in a particular neighborhood.’ Others are just ‘Frank, I met him once,’ ” John Pennington, director of the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, said early Monday.
At least seven people remained hospitalized, including a 22-week-old boy in critical condition. The infant, Duke Suddarth, whose condition officials said was improving, was hospitalized along with his mother, Amanda Skorjanc, 25, who was in satisfactory condition.
Fearing more moving earth at the site of Saturday’s disaster, search-and-rescue workers were pulled back Monday afternoon from searching for the dead and missing, officials said.
“There are concerns about additional slides in the same area affected Saturday,” Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Shari Ireton told reporters. “Ground crews have pulled back, and geologists are on the ground.”
Pearce reported from Los Angeles and La Ganga from Arlington.