Rescue workers toil at the western edge of the mudslide where it covers Highway 530, east of Oso. Picture: Mark Mulligan, The Herald


Darrington, Washington - Authorities searching for victims of a deadly Washington state landslide said on Wednesday that the number of missing had dropped to 90, as officials reported finding more bodies while acknowledging that some victims' remains may never be recovered.

The known death toll remained at 24, including eight people whose bodies had yet to be recovered after the disaster near the rural town of Oso, where a rain-soaked hillside collapsed on Saturday and cascaded over a river and a road, engulfing dozens of homes on the opposite bank.

Snohomish County's emergency management director, John Pennington, told reporters the tally of missing had dropped dramatically to 90 from 176, but that the fate of as many as 35 more people who were not officially among the missing remained uncertain.

About 200 search personnel, many wearing rain gear and hard hats, painstakingly combed through the disaster zone under cloudy skies on Wednesday, taking advantage of a break from Tuesday's rain showers to hasten their search for more victims.

White markers were placed at the edge of the gouged slope to help in detecting any further shifting of the hillside.

The slide already ranks as one of the worst in the United States. In 1969, 150 people were killed in landslides and floods in Virginia, according to the US Geological Survey. - Reuters