An estimated 18 residents remain unaccounted for after a deadly mudslide claimed the lives of at least three people in Snohomish County, Wash., on March 22 around 11 a.m. Search-and-rescue on foot is currently at a standstill due to of unstable conditions, as helicopters continue to monitor overhead.
"Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said at a news briefing that 'we suspect that people are out there, but it's far too dangerous to get responders out there on that mudflow,'" reports the New York Daily News. "Officials described the deadly slide as 'a big wall of mud and debris' that blocked about one mile of State Route 530 near the town of Oso, about 55 miles north of Seattle. It was reported about 60 feet deep in some areas."
An estimated 30 houses were destroyed. "The mud was so thick and deep that searchers turned back late Saturday after attempting to reach an area where voices were heard crying for help," however, "rescuers couldn't hear any signs of life once they got closer, and the decision was made to back out due to safety reasons," explained Hots.
"The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, which prompted an evacuation notice because water was rising rapidly behind the debris," further reports the New York Daily News. "Authorities worried about severe downstream flooding if water suddenly broke through the debris."
Under a state of emergency, residents were allowed to return to their homes during daylight hours on March 23. The National Weather Service kept its flash flood watch in effect through Sunday afternoon.
SEE OUR GALLERY OF PHOTOS FROM THE MUDSLIDE HERE.