Rescue workers prepared for another difficult day of digging through the massive debris field left behind by the landslide in Washington state, with officials again stressing that the death toll — while unchanged on Friday morning — was expected to increase, repeating what they have been saying for days.
Additional bodies have been located, but they aren’t part of the death toll until officially confirmed by the county medical examiner’s office, Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots said at a news briefing on Friday morning.
Even for a catastrophe like this, with houses ravaged and nearly 100 people believed to be missing, the news late Thursday night was particularly grim: The official death toll rose to 17 after workers recovered the body of an infant on Thursday.
The work on Friday was going to be difficult, with rain expected to “further complicate things,” Hots said.
“The weather is basically working against us,” he said.
In addition to the rain that has fallen on and off since Tuesday, workers are already navigating a field spanning a square mile that is as much as 40 feet deep in some parts and thick with mud, debris and dangerous liquids.
“We’ve got a hard day ahead of us,” Hots said.
In this video, a survivor recounts what it was like to endure the slide itself: