A mudslide has devastated the town of Oso, just North of Seattle. It happened on Saturday, the 22nd of March 2014 at around 11 a.m. and a search and rescue operation has been ongoing for five days now. It has used search dogs, helicopters and laser imaging to locate people.
The death toll now stands at 24, including eight bodies which have been located, but have not been recovered. A 177ft (54m) wall of mud is still hindering the authorities’ effort to find the 90 people which are still unaccounted for. However, after all this time, officials are skeptical, seeing as no-one has been pulled from the mud alive since Saturday and they expect the death toll to rise as the search continues.
Not only has the mud slide crippled the population of the small town; it has also destroyed 30 houses, left a square mile of debris and mud behind it and Highway 530 (the main road into the town of Darrington) was blocked.
This catastrophe has even caught the attention of President Obama himself. A news conference was held in the Netherlands, which he attended and asked people to support and pray for the victims of the mud slide.
Witnesses described it as “a fast-moving wall of mud” and a firefighter who witnessed the event stated, “When the slide hit the river, it was like a tsunami.” A Washington state geologist said the slide was one of the largest landslides he’d seen.
So many volunteers wish to help, that many have been turned away, according to the Snohomish County Emergency Management Director: John Pennington. “The debris field is huge, it’s complex, and it’s dangerous. I don’t think we have a lot of answers. All I can definitely say is that we have a number that is 90 and we’re going to pursue that as much as we can,” he said.