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Officials knew of dangers at site of Washington state mudslide




Officials say 14 people have been confirmed dead, and as many as 176 are missing, after a massive wall of mud destroyed a community in Washington State. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times-Pool/Getty Images)
Officials say 14 people have been confirmed dead, and as many as 176 are missing, after a massive wall of mud destroyed a community in Washington State. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times-Pool/Getty Images)
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So far, 14 bodies have been pulled from the sea of mud that rained down Saturday on a riverside community in Washington, north of Seattle. Officials say as many as 176 people are still missing and unaccounted for.

The huge slide was in an area that was known by geologists to be unstable, and there are records of several large slides going back to the 1950's. In spite of that, the county approved building permits on the hillside, and some are now questioning that decision.

RELATED: Update: 178 on list of missing in Washington mudslide

Meanwhile the grim work of recovery continues. Responders are being hampered by the deep swaths of mud, some as thick as 20 feet.  There is also concern about chemical contamination.

Reporter Phyliss Fletcher of public station KUOW in Seattle has spent several days in communities surrounding the disaster. She shares stories of grieving residents, some still clinging to hope that their loved ones will be found, and of the questions being asked about how the slide happened, and why so many were unaware of the danger of living in the area.