- (Photo: REUTERS/Washington State Department of Transportation/Handout via Reuters)
Officials are still searching for close to 108 people following a massive mudslide Saturday in Washington state that killed at least eight people. Hopes for more survivors are said to be grim.
"This is a large scale disaster event. We have 108 individual names, or likeness ... It's a soft 108," said Emergency Response Managing Director John Pennington, according to Fox News.
"It was Saturday and probably a higher number than what you would see on a week day."
Authorities said Monday that they will are "not releasing the names or information about those who are believed to be missing, as well as those who are deceased."
Close to 30 homes were destroyed in the 1-square-mile mudslide that struck Snohomish County, and although initial reports had said that three people died, that number has now risen to eight.
Uneven grounds and rising waters have hampered rescue efforts. Authorities, meanwhile, have suggested that hopes are grim for finding more survivors.
"We didn't see or hear any signs of life out there today," said Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots on Sunday night. "It's very disappointing to all emergency responders on scene."
The mudslide is believed to have been caused by a recent heavy rainfall that caused uneven ground. It struck a former fishing village of small homes, some close to 100 years old.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said on Monday that he received assurance from FEMA that the federal government will be providing assistance.
"I want to thank [FEMA Regional Administrator] Mr. [Kenneth] Murphy for this quick response to the needs of a community devastated by last week's mudslide," Inslee said in a statement. "This was a priority for the state and our Congressional delegation and means we will receive immediate assistance from specialists and clears the way for more aid in search and rescue, recovery and rebuilding."
The governor also assured families that there is a "full scale, 100 percent aggressive rescue" going on right now to find their missing loved ones.
The region has been experiencing particularly heavy rainfall this season, with Jonathan Erdman, senior meteorologist for The Weather Channel, reporting: "Through March 21, Seattle was only 0.69 inches away from tying their wettest March on record, set in 1950."
Authorities have urged everyone who might have possibly been in the area to call in and confirm their status.
"Even if you were not in the area but there might be a possibility that friends and family may believe you were in the area for whatever reason, please call this number to confirm you were OK," authorities stated.