Authorities: Washington Mudslide Missing Number Drops to 90 - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Authorities: Washington Mudslide Missing Number Drops to 90

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Washington authorities say the official death toll from a devastating mudslide remains at 16, with eight additional bodies located but not recovered. 
 
Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington says Wednesday that the number of people missing or unaccounted for dropped Wednesday from 176 to 90.

He says the number of missing has been fluctuating, but authorities were able to eliminate 140 people who had been reported missing. 
 
In addition there are 35 other people whose status is unknown. 

 A 2010 report commissioned by Snohomish County to comply with a federal law warned that neighborhoods along the Stillaguamish River were among the highest-risk areas, The Seattle Times reported.
 
The hillside that collapsed Saturday outside of the community of Oso was one highlighted as particularly dangerous, said the report by California-based engineering and architecture firm Tetra Tech.
 
"For someone to say that this plan did not warn that this was a risk is a falsity," said report author and Tetra Tech program manager Rob Flaner.
 
A 1999 report by geomorphologist Daniel Miller, although not about housing, raises questions about why residents were allowed to build homes in the area and whether officials had taken proper precautions.
 
"I knew it would fail catastrophically in a large-magnitude event," though not when it would happen, said Miller, who was hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the study. "I was not surprised."
 
A year later, the U.S. Army Corps of engineers warned in another study that lives would be at risk if the hillside collapsed, The Daily Herald of Everett reported.
 
Residents and county officials were focused on flood prevention, even after a 2006 landslide that did not reach any homes.
 
"We were just trying to stabilize the river so we could save the community from additional flooding," said Steve Thomsen, the county's public works director.
 
Snohomish County Emergency Department director John Pennington said local authorities were vigilant about warning the public of landslide dangers, and homeowners "were very aware of the slide potential."
 
In fact, the area has long been known as the "Hazel Landslide" because of landslides over the past half-century. The last major one before Saturday's disaster was in 2006. (AP)

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