Rescuers yesterday continued to push through sludge and splintered homes as searches went on in the wake of Saturday’s giant mudslide in the United States.
The most recent discovery was of eight bodies in the debris field around the disaster, which happened 55 miles north-east of Seattle – although there is still hope of finding victims alive.
As of yesterday evening, the likely death toll stood at 24 – although authorities were keeping the official toll at 16 ahead of the recovery of the other eight bodies.
All in all, the authorities are working from a list of 176 unaccounted-for individuals.
Despite the most recent grim discoveries, officials were still hoping to find survivors amid the wreckage.
Local fire chief Travis Hots said: “We haven’t lost hope that there’s a possibility that we can find somebody alive in some pocket area.”
Hundreds of rescuers and heavy equipment operators slogged through the muck and rain, following the search dogs over the unstable surface.
Mr Hots said: “Going on the last three days the most effective tool has been dogs and just our bare hands and shovels uncovering people.”
As the increasingly desperate search progressed, reports surfaced that warned of the potential for dangerous landslides in the community.
A 2010 report commissioned by Snohomish County warned that neighbourhoods along the Stillaguamish River were among the highest-risk areas, The Seattle Times reported.
The hillside that collapsed on Saturday outside of the community of Oso was one highlighted as being particularly dangerous. There had been a landslide in 2006, but it did not hit any homes.