EVERETT, Wash., April 8 (UPI) -- As the number of confirmed dead in the Washington mudslide rises, the search for the bodies of the missing is becoming more difficult.
Work began Monday on a berm that will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to drain a large area. Mike Peele, the agency's team leader at the mudslide site, said construction could take a week.
On Tuesday, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner announced that 34 bodies have been recovered. The number victims positively identified remained at 30.
Searchers believe some of the missing may be in the area to be drained, which is now covered with 5 to 10 feet of water.
“We haven’t been able to see what’s under the water there,” Owen Carter, the county's deputy public works director, said Sunday.
The final death toll from the mudslide that hit the village of Oso on March 22 now appears likely to be under 50. The slide buried an area about a mile square, destroying dozens of homes.
Hundreds of people are working at the site, including the Corps of Engineers, the National Guard and the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS has been placing devices called spiders around the site to warn of earth movements that could endanger search teams.