Washington state officials say the confirmed death toll from a massive mudslide was likely to rise sharply from 25 on Friday as residents accused local authorities of a slow early response to the disaster that had cost lives.
A rain-soaked hillside collapsed on Saturday, unleashing a deluge of mud on dozens of homes in a river valley near the rural town of Oso, in Snohomish County, some 55 miles northeast of Seattle.
Authorities fear that some of the 90 still missing might never be found in the square-mile heap of mud-caked debris and muck. Officials were expected to revise casualty tolls during a press conference at 9 a.m. local time on Friday.
“In the next 24 to 48 hours, as the medical examiner’s office catches up with the difficult work that they have to do, you’re going to see these numbers increase substantially,” fire district chief Travis Hots said on Thursday.
An estimated 180 people lived in the path of the landslide.