The latest three victims of the Washington mudslide have been formally identified.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office positively identified the three people Thursday as Ron deQuilettes, 52; Sandra Miller, 64, and Wyatt Ruthven, 4.
They are among the 39 victims recovered from the March 22 slide that swept through the community of Oso.
Sandra Miller was building a new home on the banks of the Stillaguamish River with her husband, Larry, 58. The couple was putting finishing touches on the house before moving in, and Ron deQuilettes was there to work on the home’s electrical wiring.
There are 39 victims recovered from the March 22 slide that swept through the community of Oso in Washington state (photo AP)
Ron deQuilettes leaves behind a wife, who he met 31 years ago, and four children.
Wyatt Ruthven was among three generations of family who died in the mudslide, including his parents, Shane and Katie Ruthven, his 6-year-old brother Hunter and his grandparents Louie and JuDee Vanderburg. Each was previously identified as a victim of the slide.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office said they are still working with the families of the remaining missing.
The bodies of two more people killed in the massive mudslide in Washington have been recovered by authorities, bringing the death toll to 16.
The officials said they thought they had located eight more bodies under the mud but were unable to retrieve them.
As many as 176 people remain unaccounted for.
A 177ft wall of mud buried the town of Oso, north of Seattle, on Saturday. Officials said the search would resume at first light.
The bodies of two more people killed in the massive mudslide in Washington have been recovered by authorities, bringing the death toll to 16 (photo NBC News)
“We haven’t lost hope that there’s a possibility that we could find somebody alive,” local fire chief Travis Hots told reporters on Tuesday night.
“We are coming to the realization that that may not be a possibility – but we are going full steam ahead.
“We are going at this hard to get everybody that’s out there that’s missing”
The sudden, catastrophic mudslide on Saturday destroyed about 30 houses, temporarily damming a river and leaving a square-mile field of muck and debris in its wake.
Survivors were last pulled alive from the mud on Saturday.
But as many as 200 search-and-rescue workers at a time – aided by dogs, helicopters, laser imaging and excavation equipment – have not let up since, pausing only when darkness made the work too dangerous, officials said.
The search-and-rescue operation was further complicated on Tuesday by heavy rain, Travis Hots said, as the workers were forced to contend with slippery mud, upturned nails, wreckage, and deep pits of water.
Washington authorities have found six more bodies after Saturday’s huge landslide, bringing the number known to have been killed to 14, say police.
Officials now say as many as 176 people may remain unaccounted for after the 177ft wall of mud hit near the town of Oso, north of Seattle.
Search crews have worked day and night, using helicopters and laser imaging.
Officials admit they have little hope of finding survivors.
President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in Washington State and ordered federal authorities to co-ordinate the disaster relief effort.
Speaking earlier after surveying the area from the air, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said it was “devastation beyond imagination”.
Jay Inslee said the slide “basically cut a mountain in two” and deposited it on the town below. Nothing in the path of the slide was still standing.
“It’s that absolute devastation that causes us all real pain,” he said.
Family members and volunteers were using chainsaws and their bare hands to shift the wreckage and try to find those missing.
Washington authorities have found six more bodies after Saturday’s huge landslide
At a news conference on Monday evening, Snohomish County emergency management director John Pennington said the official list of the missing stood at 176.
But he said he did not think the final death toll would be so high, because some of those listed as unaccounted for would be found to be alive, and other names would prove to be duplicates.
But he said authorities no longer expected to find survivors in the debris.
“We as a community, we as a county, are beginning to realize that we are moving toward a recovery operation,” John Pennington said.
“There is an awful lot of grieving.”
The landslide left behind a cliff known as a head scarp 600ft high, Washington state geologist Dave Norman told reporters on Monday afternoon.
Authorities have continued their search-and-rescue operations amid a tangled, water-logged field of mud and debris, using rescue dogs, aerial photography and laser imaging to help the search.
Officials said the conditions were treacherous, and the threat of further landslides on Monday forced the authorities to pull rescue workers back from the scene briefly until scientists determined there was no further risk.
More than 30 homes were destroyed and more than half the town of Oso is missing – a recent census put its population at 180.
The landslide cut off the city of Darrington and clogged the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.