TIME Disaster

Washington Mudslide Death Toll Hits 25

Mudslide
Workers search for victims in a massive mudslide in Oso, Washington March 28, 2014. Lindsey Wasson—Reuters

Rescuers are struggling to find 90 people still missing after last weekend's deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash., and expect the death toll to rise above 25. The mudslide left eight known survivors thus far, including a 22-week-old baby rescued by his mother

Despite pouring rain, rescue teams in Washington State continue to search for bodies left by Saturday’s massive mudslide that took at least 25 lives and destroyed dozens of homes.

Families prayed for more miracles as they held a vigil for the 90 people still missing, Reuters reports. Some unexpected rescues, like that of a small boy stuck in the mud Saturday, have many holding out hope for loved ones to be found alive.

“My heart is telling me I’m not giving up yet,” Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots told the Associated Press. “If we find just one more person alive, it’s all worth it to me.”

Emergency crews are using dogs, cameras and listening devices in a search area that’s a square mile wide and 40 ft. deep in some places. More than 200 people have been digging through wrecked homes and cars looking for bodies.

The mudslide left eight known survivors thus far, including a 22-week-old baby rescued by his mother. The newborn remains in critical condition.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration Monday ordering government assistance in relief efforts. The relief account had nearly $50,000 by Thursday.

Authorities believe the death toll will climb steeply as the search continues. If dozens more bodies are found, the Oso mudslide will become one of Washington’s largest disasters. The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens killed 57 people, while a 1910 avalanche near Stevens Pass killed 96.

“We do know this could end up being the largest mass loss of Washingtonians,” Governor Jay Inslee said Thursday. “We’re looking for miracles to occur.”

[AP]

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