Death toll from Washington mudslide rises again

A helicopter flies over the large debris pile left by a mudslide in Oso, Washington, in this April 4, 2014 file photo. The official death toll from a mudslide that devastated a neighborhood in the Cascade foothills of Washington state last month rose to 39 on April 16, 2014, after search teams pulled out two more bodies from the mud and rubble, local county officials said in a statement. MAX WHITTAKER, REUTERS

EVERETT, Wash. - The death toll from the mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso has risen to 39.

The Snohomish County medical examiner's office announced two more victims Wednesday and said it was trying to identify three of the bodies.


The sheriff's office still lists seven people as missing from the March 22 landslide that raced across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River and buried dozens of homes in the riverfront community about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

Recovery workers with dogs are probing the debris, and the state Transportation Department is making plans to clear a mile-long stretch of Highway 530 that is covered with mud and trees up to 25 feet deep.

Reopening the highway is a priority for residents facing long detours.

It could take one to three months to clear all the mud, trees and other debris, officials told residents at a Monday night meeting.

In the meantime, residents may be allowed limited use of a temporary access road that has been restricted to emergency vehicles, officials said.

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