Rescuers slogging through muck and rain on Tuesday in an increasingly desperate search for survivors of a massive mudslide instead recovered two bodies and believe they have located another eight, a local fire official said.
The announcement by Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots put the official death toll at 16, with the possibility of 24 dead once the other bodies are confirmed.
With scores still missing, authorities are working off a list of 176 people unaccounted for, though some names were believed to be duplicates.
Authorities said that number will change because the nearby logging town of Darrington’s power was restored and more people have called in.
An updated number would be available on Wednesday, Snohomish County Emergency Department director John Pennington said.
“We’re all still hoping for that miracle but we are preparing for the other possibility,” Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said in a news briefing on Tuesday afternoon.