Update: 178 on list of missing in Washington mudslide

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Update 7:24 p.m.: List of missing people climbs to 178

Authorities say they still don't know how many people remain missing from a deadly Washington state mudslide.

Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington said late Monday that officials were working off a potential list of 176 people, but he stressed that authorities believed that included many duplicate names.

At least 14 people have died. Officials say they are still culling through multiple reports of people who may have lived or worked in the area.

The slide smashed through a small community about 55 miles north of Seattle on Saturday morning.

Update 10:44 a.m.: 108 on list of missing in Washington mudslide

There are 108 names on the list of people who've been reported missing or unaccounted for in the weekend mudslide in Washington state, authorities said Monday.

Snohomish County emergency management director John Pennington said that's the consolidated list from various sources that authorities are working from, and it doesn't mean there are that many injuries or fatalities.

"It's a soft 108," Pennington said at a news conference.

Among the possible missing are construction workers coming into the neighborhood and people just driving by. Pennington added the slide occurred on a Saturday morning, when more people were likely to be home.

An overnight search turned up no additional survivors or fatalities.

"The situation is very grim," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said Monday morning.

He stressed that authorities are still in rescue mode and are holding out hope. But he noted: "We have not found anyone alive on this pile since Saturday."

At least eight people were killed in the 1-square-mile slide that hit in a rural area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Several people also were critically injured, and about 30 homes were destroyed.

Search and rescue teams took to the air in helicopters and the ground on foot on Sunday looking for anyone who might still be alive. Their spirits had been raised late Saturday night when they heard voices calling for help from the flotsam of trees, dirt and wreckage. Dangerous conditions forced them to turn back in the darkness, but they resumed their work at first light Sunday.

"We didn't see or hear any signs of life out there today," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said. "It's very disappointing to all emergency responders on scene."

Snohomish County sheriff's Lt. Rob Palmer said four more bodies were discovered late Sunday. Earlier in the day, authorities said one body had been found on the debris field. Three people were already confirmed dead on Saturday.

More people remained missing, and authorities said the number was "fluid." Earlier Sunday, they said it was at least 18, but that count came before additional bodies were discovered.

The 1-square-mile slide also critically injured several people — including an infant — and destroyed about 30 homes. Of the 49 structures in the neighborhood hit by the slide, authorities believe at least 25 were occupied full-time.

Crews were able to get to the soupy, tree-strewn area that was 15-feet deep in places Sunday after geologists flew over in a helicopter and determined it was safe enough for emergency responders and technical rescue personnel to search for possible survivors, Hots said.

He added that they did not search the entire debris field, only drier areas safe to traverse. Hots said crews were still in a "search and rescue mode. It has not gone to a recovery mode at this time."

Before crews could get onto the debris field late Sunday morning, they looked for people by helicopter. They had late Saturday heard people yelling for help, but they were unable to reach anyone. The soupy mud was so thick and deep that searchers had to turn back.

"We have this huge square-mile mudflow that's basically like quicksand," Hots said Sunday.

The slide wiped through what neighbors described as a former fishing village of small homes — some nearly 100 years old.

As the search for the missing continued, authorities said some may have been able to get out on their own. The number unaccounted for could change because some people may have been in cars and on roads when the slide hit just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

Officials described the mudslide as "a big wall of mud and debris." It blocked about a mile of State Route 530 near the town of Oso, about 55 miles north of Seattle.

Authorities believe the slide was caused by ground made unstable by recent heavy rainfall.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as "a square mile of total devastation" after flying over the disaster area midday Sunday. He assured families that everything was being done to find their missing loved ones.

The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. With the water pooling behind the debris, authorities worried about downstream flooding and issued an evacuation notice Saturday. The water had begun to seep through the blockage Sunday afternoon, alleviating some concerns.

Snohomish County officials said Sunday that residents could return home during daylight hours. Even though the evacuation had been lifted, Inslee urged residents to remain alert.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Monday afternoon.

Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County sheriff's office, said Sunday that a total of eight people were injured in the slide.

A 6-month-old boy and an 81-year-old man remained in critical condition Sunday morning at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said two men, ages 37 and 58, were in serious condition, while a 25-year-old woman was upgraded to satisfactory condition.

Bruce Blacker, who lives just west of the slide, doesn't know the whereabouts of six neighbors.

"It's a very close-knit community," Blacker said as he waited at an Arlington roadblock before troopers let him through.

Search-and-rescue help came from around the region, including the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers. More than 100 were at the scene.

Dane Williams, 30, who lives a few miles from the mudslide, spent Saturday night at a Red Cross shelter at the Arlington school.

He said he saw a few "pretty distraught" people at the shelter who didn't know the fate of loved ones who live in the stricken area.

"It makes me want to cry," Williams said.

Hots said searchers would continue their efforts through the difficult debris field.

"There may be people in their cars, there may be people in houses," he said.

Associated Press writers Phuong Le and Chris Grygiel in Seattle contributed to this report.

This story has been updated. 

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