Washington Landslide Death Toll Rising; 14 Dead, 176 Missing

The death toll from the massive Washington state mudslide on Saturday continues to rise, with officials saying that 14 people have now been confirmed dead, while another 176 are still missing.

(Photo: Reuters/Lindsey Wasson)A landslide and structural debris blocks Highway 530 near Oso, Washington March 23, 2014. Eighteen people remain unaccounted for in a landslide that killed three and injured at least eight more in northwestern Washington state, officials said Sunday.

"I would just ask all Americans to send their thoughts and prayers to Washington state," President Barack Obama asked while speaking from the Nuclear Security Summit in Netherlands, USA Today reported.

A massive 1-square-mile mudslide struck Snohomish County on Saturday, the result of recent heavy rainfall that caused uneven ground, destroying close to 35 homes. Both the death toll and the number of people missing have been rising each day since, with authorities stating that hopes for finding more survivors are grim.

"I never lose faith and a lot of people in this community will never lose faith, but I think that there's a realism element that's entered in,'' Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington told NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday.

"As we enter into day three, we see the devastation, and I think the realization is that we have responded as well as we can and we will continue to do that, but that we are turning that very delicate corner into the recovery operation," he continued.

"I think that's only fair to the people that are out there and for that process of grieving and healing not just for the individuals and families but for the entire community and our county of Snohomish."

Pennington added, however, that he strongly believes that 176 is not going to be the number of total fatalities, and that it will dwindle down, indicating that authorities believe that a number of duplicate names have been included in the missing persons report.

Fox News noted that rescue efforts resumed on Tuesday, but have been unable to find anyone trapped under the rubble.

Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots described the chaotic recovery area, covered in some placed by 15 feet of rubble.

"It's muddy, in areas it's like quicksand," said Hots. "One of the folks out there told me, 'Chief, sometimes it takes five minutes to walk 40 or 50 feet.'"

On Monday, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee promised families with missing loved ones that the search continues at full force, and added that he has received assurance from FEMA that the federal government will be providing assistance

The White House noted in a separate statement that FEMA is authorized to provide at its discretion all equipment and resources needed to help with the rescue efforts.