The death toll of 14 from a massive Washington state mudslide is expected to increase as crews continue to search through the soupy, debris-laden field and rainy conditions complicate matters for searchers.
“We’re expecting that number to go up throughout the day,” Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said Tuesday.
Dozens of people remain unaccounted for. Authorities are working off a list of 176 potentially missing people, though many of those names likely are duplicates.
The landslide Saturday destroyed a small community 55 miles northeast of Seattle, flattening about two dozen homes and critically injuring several people.
A scientist who documented the landslide conditions on the hillside warned in a 1999 report filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the “potential for a large catastrophic failure.”
“We’ve known it would happen at some point,” Daniel Miller, the report’s author, said Monday.
Snohomish Public Works Director Steve Thomsen said he was not aware of the 1999 report.
“A slide of this magnitude is very difficult to predict,” Thomsen said. “There was no indication, no indication at all.”