March 26 - U.S. firefighters say the likely death toll from a devastating weekend landslide in Washington state rises to 24 after rescue workers recovered two bodies and believe they had located eight more. Sarah Toms reports.
A lone American flag defies a catastophic mudslide, rising from the rubble. A massive rainsoaked hillside collasped, cascading over a river, road and residential area, burying dozens of homes. The landslide left a square mile of tangled mud and debris in its wake. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SNOHOMISH COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT 21 CHIEF, TRAVIS HOTS, SAYING: "What we're finding is these vehicles are twisted and tore up in pieces. You know I saw a car out there and I saw one piece of the car, like an eighth of the car, and it was just all twisted and it's just amazing the magnitude and the force that this slide has created and what it has done And it's not just done that to cars." The death toll is believed to have climbed to 24 after rescue workers recovered two bodies and believed they had located eight more. As many as 176 people are missing, although some may have been counted twice. . (SOUNDBITE) (English) SNOHOMISH COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT 21 CHIEF, TRAVIS HOTS, SAYING: "I consider it still a rescue operation. Absolutely it's a rescue and recovery operation. We haven't lost hope that there is a possibility that we could find someone alive in some pocket area. As the days go on and we haven't seen any loss of life we are coming to the realisation that may not be a possibility. We are going full steam ahead." Search crews have worked day and night, in treacherous quick sand conditions. The rescue operation has been further complicated by heavy rain. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared an emergency here in Washington state and ordered federal authorities to co-ordinate the disaster relief effort.