(OSO, Wash.) — Rescue operations continued through the night following a massive mudslide that killed at least eight people in Oso, Wash. on Saturday.
An entire neighborhood of up to 30 homes was believed to have been wiped out and many people are still unaccounted for.
Fire Chief Travis Hots, with Snohomish County District 21, says the disaster is reminiscent of a volcanic eruption, with trees laying on their side and massive mud debris.
“It’s basically a square mile area about 6,000 feet by 6,000 feet. It’s huge. Several neighborhoods,” Hots said.
As Governor Jay Inslee described the area near the town of Oso as “a square mile of total devastation,” rescuers had hoped to save some of the victims buried under as much as 60 feet of mud and debris as cries for help were heard following the slide that occurred after 11 a.m. Saturday.
However, the voices grew fainter and eventually tailed off as a decision to suspend the rescue was made due to safety concerns.
“The devastation is just unrelenting and awesome,” Inslee said. “Some of them who went in literally got caught in up to their armpits and had to be dragged out by ropes themselves.”
“They have taken risks already. It’s just a physical impossibility of supporting the human weight in a slurry that is the probably right now. When that will happen, we don’t have any answer for that,” he said.
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