The number of those believed missing following the deadly mudslide in Washington state has dropped to 30 after many people were found safe.
Authorities previously set the number of missing people at 90, but said they expected that figure to drop dramatically as they worked to find people and cross-referenced a list that included partial reports and duplicates.
Meanwhile the confirmed death toll has risen by one, to 18. Finding and identifying all the victims could stretch on for a very long time and authorities have warned that not everyone may ultimately be accounted for after one of the deadliest landslides in US history.
The search by heavy equipment, dogs and bare hands for victims from the slide was going “all the way to the dirt” as crews looked for anything to provide answers for family and friends a week after a small mountainside community was destroyed.
All work on the debris field halted briefly for a moment of silence yesterday to honour those lost. State governor Jay Inslee had asked people across Washington to pause at 10.37am, the time the huge slide struck on March 22, destroying a neighbourhood in Oso, north of Seattle.
Dogs working four-hour shifts have been the most useful tool, say rescuers, but they were getting hypothermic in the rain and muck.
Emergency management leaders are making sure people have the right gear to stay safe in the rain and potentially hazardous materials and are keeping a close eye on the level of a nearby river.
The huge wall of earth that crashed into the collection of homes followed weeks of heavy rain.