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Death toll rises in Washington state mudslide

Rescuer workers have recovered more bodies from the debris of a weekend mudslide in the US state of Washington. They are currently searching for 176 missing persons.

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Mudslide death toll rises

"Unfortunately we did not find any signs of life today," local fire chief Travis Hots told reporters in the Washington community of Oso, which lies roughly 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of Seattle. Rescuer workers found ten more bodies on late Tuesday local time, bringing the death toll to 24.

Two of the bodies were recovered, while eight were located in the debris field. Authorities are keeping the officil death toll at 16 until the other eight bodies are recovered.

On Saturday morning, the rain-soaked side of a mountain broke free and slammed into homes, a highway and the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River in the community of Oso. Some 176 people remain missing, a number which the 200-person search team hopes will drop as they continue their efforts.

"We have not lost hope we might find somebody still alive," Hots said.

The slide covered around a square mile and left a field of debris, rock and mud up to 15 feet (5 meters) deep in some places.

The density of the debris field had made rescue efforts difficult, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee toll broadcaster CNN: "It's a kind of a slurry where it's not solid enough to support a person's body walking on it but too solid to take a boat."

Dogs have reportedly proven the most effective tool for finding the victims during the four-day search.

US President Barack Obama offered his support to the Pacific Northwest state on Tuesday. While attending the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Obama called Governor Jay Inslee, according to the governor's office. He also signed an emergency declaration to boost federal aid to its emergency rescue efforts.

kms/mz (Reuters, dpa)

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