Official death toll now 30 in Washington mudslide

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Washington, April 4 (IANS/EFE) Authorities raised the number of fatalities in the March 22 mudslide in rural Washington state Thursday to 30, while 15 people remain missing.

The death toll figure Wednesday had been 29, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, in what President Barack Obama had called a "great catastrophe".

Of the 30 bodies that have been found so far amid the mud, boulders, trees and debris from crushed buildings, 27 have been identified.

On March 22, a waterlogged hillside gave way, carrying millions of tonnes of mud down upon a part of the small town of Oso, where about 200 people lived, located 60 km northwest of Seattle.

Since then, the number of missing people, which initially stood at 170, has been falling while the number of confirmed fatalities has been rising.

The mud that continues to accumulate below the hillside and which at some points has been measured at 23 metres deep, is complicating the task of recovering the bodies of the dead.

--IANS/EFE