Washington state officials, apparently armed with new information, have asked for further searches along the northwest flank of Mount St. Helens for survivors of the volcano's May 18 eruption, it was disclosed yesterday.
A military airlift command spokesman from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., said the Washington Department of Emergency Services had requested that an Air Force reserve search and rescue unit remain on the scene to check out "the northwest flank of Mount St. Helens for possible survivors.
"The Washington DES asked the rescue squadron to remain due to new information they have received," the spokesman said.
Scott AFB is the control center for military search and rescue operations in the 48 adjoining states.
Helicopter searches for survivors were discontinued last week after 22 bodies had been recovered.At least 13 of the 51 missing were confirmed to have been within the 150-square mile blast area and were presumed dead.
Gov. Dixy Lee Ray signed an order requiring everyone but law enforcement and search and rescue personnel to obtain a permit before getting within 20 miles of the mountain. Geologists concede that they do not know what will happen next on Mount St. Helens and emphasized that the volcano still is dangerous.