(OSO, Wash.) — Officials in Snohomish County, Wash., searching for signs of life in the mudslide called Tuesday’s efforts “very challenging” as the number of fatalities rises and the conditions seem to worsen.
Two more bodies were recovered Tuesday in the rural region of Washington state, where a massive mudslide Saturday wiped out dozens of occupied homes north of Seattle. As many as eight more bodies are waiting to be recovered, according to local officials. Tuesday’s discoveries bring the total number of bodies found to 24.
During a late news conference, Snohomish County District Fire Chief Travis Hots said search operations will be curtailed overnight going into Wednesday due to dangerous conditions.
“We’ve got a lot of uneven ground out there. We’ve got nails sticking up, we got areas that you can actually fall into five or six feet of water that is covered by a light debris,” Hots said Tuesday.
Though Hots said no signs of life appear to be in the debris-covered search area, he still considers the search to be a rescue operation as the number of unaccounted for remains at 176.
“It’s a rescue and a recovery operation. We haven’t lost hope that, you know, there’s a possibility that we could find somebody alive in some pocket area,” he said.
Much of the area is still covered in thick mud, causing most searchers to become stuck themselves.
“It is the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen. This is the thing you never want to have happen when you’re the boss, and shouldn’t have happened,” Hots added.
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