ABC News’ Neal Karlinsky reports from Darrington, Wash.:
Hovercraft and specialized search teams joined a small fleet of helicopters today, as emergency personnel continued looking for signs of life amid a mudslide that swept away 30 homes in Washington state.
“The situation is very grim,” Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said earlier today. “Keep in mind we have not found anybody alive since Saturday.”
At least 14 people were killed and seven hospitalized, including an infant, after a mudslide – the size of a square mile – broke loose from ridge and cascaded over a valley.
The mud leveled everything in its path, including the community, about 55 miles northeast of Seattle, that had been once dotted by houses to the left of the Stillaguamish River.
Trees that were 50 feet to 60 feet tall were tossed like toothpicks and thrown hundreds of yards.
Robin Youngblood said living through the mudslide was like whirling in a washing machine of mud and trees. “We were tumbled inside and had mud in our eyes and nose and mouth,” Youngblood said. “I am so grateful I am alive.”
Authorities had earlier struggled to whittle down a list of 108 possible missing people, though they said they thought the number was much lower.
The area’s only school was closed today. Many of its students lived in the slide zone.
“So this school may have hardest hit,” Darrington School Board president Alan Pickard said. “Well, it’s not just the school. It’s the town and the community.”
Although rescue crews were forced to pull back later today, because of fears of more slides in the same area and rain was also in the forecast, threatening to worsen the search effort, Hots said today authorities remained hopeful and in rescue mode.