Searchers on the east side of the Snohomish County mudslide are finding human remains four to six times each day, Steve Harris, a division supervisor for the incident command post in Darrington said at a news conference this morning.
In some instances, only partial remains are being recovered, making identification an issue.
“It is correct to say that it is very difficult in some of the finds to make identifications,” Harris said. “That is why we have the professionals with the medical examiner’s office … to make those positive identifications.”
Some of these remains are found with the help of dogs, and others are spotted by searchers, according to Harris.
About 125 people are working the east side of the slide area.
Harris said the mud in some areas is up to 70 feet deep, with an average depth of about 30 feet.
Some teams are now going back over areas already searched, Harris said.
Searchers are looking not only for human remains, but also heirlooms from homes destroyed in the slide.
Contamination from hazardous materials continues to be a concern, Harris said.
“Everybody who goes out to the scene has to be decontaminated when they leave the scene so we don’t bring any bad stuff out,” he said.
The death toll from the mudslide rose by three to 21 on Sunday, and searchers found four additional victims yesterday who are not part of that official count. The number of people still missing stands at 30.