Rescue crews continued to search on Sunday for survivors of a huge mudslide that contained trees, rocks and dirt in rural Washington. Three people have been confirmed killed by the mudslide, while eight others were injured and six houses were destroyed.
The fire chief of Snohomish County told reporters on Saturday night that his crew was able to hear voices from the area where the debris had gone. The voices, said the fire chief were pleading for help. It was not clear however, how many people might be trapped and still alive.
Rescue workers said people were yelling for help and the workers would be taking big risks to help save them. He insisted that the mission was still one of rescuing people until they could determine no one else was still trapped.
A sheriff’s office spokesperson said the rescuers were being helped by the use of thermal imaging cameras trying to located those people trapped.
The mudslide was over 135 wide and as deep as 180 feet. It hit about 11:00 am on Saturday and blocked a road completely near Oso, which is some 55 miles north of the city of Seattle.
There was a blockage as well of the Stillaguamish River’s North Fork, which caused concern about the possibility of flooding downstream affecting even more homes.
Residents upstream as well as downstream from the mudslide were asked to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice said the sheriff’s office spokesperson.
No evacuation order was being issued, but the residents needed to be aware and prepared as conditions were changing rapidly said the spokesperson.
It was reported first that just two people were killed, but authorities later announced that one person rescued died later at a nearby hospital.
Those injured included an infant who is 6 months of age. People were transported to nearby hospitals, medical clinics and other medical facilities.
Authorities believe that the mudslide had been caused due to ground water saturation from rainfall recently that has been very heavy at times.
A flash flood watch had been issued for the county through the weekend.