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Washington National Guard deploys to mudslide area

Washington National Guard deploys to mudslide
Washington National Guard deploys to mudslide

Yesterday, Washington State National Guard deployed two technical units to work alongside local EMS, Snohomish County fire departments, county sheriff’s deputies, search and rescue K9 squads, and local volunteers.

One rescuer likened the conditions to searching in quicksand.

The desperate 911 calls started coming in Saturday about 10:45 a.m. Pacific Time when mud and trees avalanched down the mountainside covering State Highway 530 and the homes beneath it.

The death toll has reached 24 according to CNN and while hopes for survivors dim, searchers agree there could be “pockets” where there is enough air for someone to live perhaps another day or two.

Officially 176 residents are still listed as missing, but because many of the homeowners in that area "winter" in the Southern U.S., those numbers are not firm.

Conditions in the area are extremely unstable and yesterday, authorities stated it was too dangerous for non-professionals to help. It is estimated the landslide is some 4,400 feet wide and as much as 40 feet deep.

Examiner’s Note: While the world has focused its attention on the missing Malaysian airliner, keep in mind that residents of tiny Oso, Washington, have no transponders and no “black boxes” to give rescuers clues to their whereabouts. Cell service is spotty in rural areas and mobile devices have likely lost battery power. Right now it’s a matter of searchers making educated guesses on where the 49 houses and their occupants might be.

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