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Published On: Sat, Mar 29th, 2014

Washington state mudslide death toll rises to 27 as rescue team battles more rain

Ninety people are still missing after the devastating landslide in Washington washed away part of the town of Oso.

The count of missing community members is down from the original estimate of 176 as search and rescue personnel continue to battle persistent rain and strong winds which is proving to be a challenge.

A body was was recovered from the wreckage late Wednesday night and authorities said on Friday that another body had been found in the debris field left behind when a rain-soaked hillside collapsed without warning last Saturday.

“The weather is basically working against us,” Fire District Chief Travis Hots said.

Heavy rain fell again Friday on the hundreds of rescue personnel and volunteers fanned out across the rugged terrain in Snohomish County looking for signs of life or, at least, lives that once were.

Those downpours added to rain that’s fallen the last two days, with more such precipitation likely through the weekend and beyond, according to the National Weather Service’s forecast.

“The operations folks made me aware this afternoon that they did locate one more victim in the debris field, but we are not including that in our total until they actually reach the medical examiner’s office,” Gary HaakensonSnohomish County‘s executive director, told an evening news conference.

Remains of 10 more people have been reported to have been located in the square-mile (2.6 square-km) heap of mud-caked debris and muck over the past several days, but as of Friday had been excluded from the formal tally of lives lost.

County officials have insisted on revising that list only as each set of remains goes through the painstaking process of being examined and identified by coroners, leaving the public mostly in the dark about the retrieval of more bodies.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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