The number of fatalities from the deadly mudslide in the U.S. state of Washington has risen to 25 and the hope of finding survivors is fading. As the number of missing has dropped from 167 to 90, rescuers admit that they are very tired.
Five days after the mudslide in Washington completely erased the small town of Oso, the tired rescue teams are still trying to find survivors, but hope is fading from minute to minute. Around 200 rescuers, assisted by numerous volunteers, are using rescue dogs, heavy machinery, bare arms, and even small cameras to detect any sign of life. So far, they have pulled 25 bodies from under the masses of rocks and mud, which is up to six feet deep in some places.
Jan McClelland, voluntary firefighter from the neighboring town of Darrington, who was among the first to arrive on the scene, is concerned that many people will never be found and that their bodies will remain in the mud forever. “I am afraid we will not find anybody else. Such is the reality,” she said.
Deeply affected citizens are helping friends and acquaintances in all possible ways – they are giving them food, water, clothing, diapers, etc. They also organize prayers and masses for the victims. In the middle school, which was turned into a temporary shelter by the Red Cross, builder Steve Findley prepared breakfast for dozens of residents of Arlington. “The people that I knew are simply gone,” he said. “This is a strong community, we all stick together,” 25-year-old Jamie Olsen added.
“This disaster is so great that it seems to me that even photographs cannot describe the actual situation,” said Congresswoman Susan DelBene, who represents the area. “The number of families affected, the number of people who have died and the number of those who are still missing … It is really heartbreaking,” she concluded.
Despite all the bad news, the rescuers had a moment of happiness last weekend when they rescued four-year-old boy Jacob Spiller, who was stuck in the mud. The recording of the rescue operation was published on the Internet today. He was separated from a certain death by minutes, but paramedics luckily noticed him on time and pulled him out of the mud. Jacob was at home with his father, brothers, and sisters when the mudslide hit. Jacob remained buried in the mud until the rescue teams that have circulated over the region with eight helicopters, noticed him. They also rescued his family.
“It is certainly a rescue-search campaign. We did not lose hope. There is a small possibility that in some areas we could still find survivors,” said Sheriff Travis Hots. Despite the fact that it has been five days since the deadly Washington mudslide hit and the hope for finding survivors is fading, relatives and friends of the victims still hope for a miracle. The Washington mudslide is certainly one of the most deadly mudslides in the USA. In 2005, 10 people died in a mudslide that buried the village of La Conchita, California.
By: Janette Verdnik