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Death toll in Washington state mudslides rises to 37

Death toll in Washington state mudslides rises to 37

MUDSLIDE:A view is seen of the large debris pile left by a mudslide in Oso, Washington, April 4. Photo: Reuters/Max Whittaker

OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) – The official death toll from a mudslide that buried a river valley neighborhood in the Cascade foothills of Washington state last month rose to 37 on Tuesday, after search teams extricated another body from the mud and rubble.

A rain-soaked hillside collapsed above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River on March 22, unleashing a torrent of mud that swallowed up a stretch of a state highway and some three dozen homes on the outskirts of the tiny community of Oso.

Of the 37 people confirmed dead, 36 have been positively identified, most recently a 14-year-old boy on Friday, Snohomish County officials said in a statement. The death toll stood at 36 on Monday.

PHOTOS: Oso mudslide 

Recovery crews were still searching for another seven people listed as missing. Their efforts in recent days have benefited from dry weather, a welcome change from periods of rain that have caused treacherous conditions and raised the risk of more slides and flash floods.

President Barack Obama has plans to visit Oso next week to view the disaster site and meet with survivors and grieving relatives of the victims, as well as first responders and recovery workers.

No one has been pulled alive from the rubble since the hours immediately following the mudslide, when at least eight people suffered injuries. Rescue teams have found no signs of life since the day of the disaster.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in Olympia, Wash., Editing by Steve Gorman and Gunna Dickson)

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