Washington Officials Abandon Hope of Finding More Survivors from Mudslide; 25 Bodies Pulled from Debris

A searcher walks amidst a massive pile of debris at the scene of a deadly mudslide, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Oso, Wash. The death toll is expected to rise considerably within the next two days as the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office catches up with the recovery effort, Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots said Thursday. (AP Photo/The Herald, Mark Mulligan, Pool)
A searcher walks amidst a massive pile of debris at the scene of a deadly mudslide, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Oso, Wash. The death toll is expected to rise considerably within the next two days as the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office catches up with the recovery effort, Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots said Thursday. (AP Photo/The Herald, Mark Mulligan, Pool)

Washington authorities say they have all but abandoned hope of finding mudslide survivors, but are keeping the official death toll at 17.

Snohomish County Executive Director Gary Haakenson repeated that number Friday, a day after authorities said the toll would rise significantly.

Authorities have previously acknowledged locating at least 25 bodies but have only recovered 17 people.

Haakenson says he believes crews are finding more bodies in the sodden debris but the process from extraction to identification by the medical examiner’s office is very slow.

He says officials want to hold out hope for survivors, but ‘‘at some point we have to expect the worst.’’

There are 90 people confirmed missing from Saturday’s mudslide in Oso, 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

SOURCE: The Associated Press

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