Los Angeles: As many as four people have been killed and up to 18 people were unaccounted for more than 24 hours after a massive landslide slammed into a mountainside community killing four in the northwestern United States, officials said.
Eight people were injured, including a six-month-old infant, when mud, water and rock smashed into the rural town of Oso, northeast of Seattle, on Saturday, police and firefighters said. Six homes and much of a highway were destroyed.
“There is a full-scale, 100-percent, aggressive rescue effort,” Washington state Governor Jay Inslee told reporters, adding that helicopters, hovercrafts and rescue personnel had rushed to the scene.
“There’s no missing piece in this rescue effort,” he added, saying he had declared a state of emergency.
The search and salvage operation in the mud-covered terrain was extremely dangerous, the unstable, rain-saturated surface putting emergency personnel at risk of further mudslides.
“Some (rescue workers) went in and got caught literally up to their armpits” in mud and had to be pulled out themselves, Inslee Snohomish County spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.
Some survivors had been hoisted to safety in the air, as others described the landslide as huge.