Blogger note: My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones...Slaade~
Slogging through sometimes waist-deep mud, rescuers returned to the "unreal" scene of a deadly Cascade Mountain landslide Thursday with the grim expectation that more bodies waited underneath them. Later that day, medical examiners added one more death to the official toll, bringing it to 17. Saturday's collapse dragged several homes downhill with it, scattering their contents among hundreds of acres of earth and smashed trees. "Anything that anyone would have in a neighborhood is now strewn out here," said Steve Mason, a Snohomish County fire battalion chief. "… Some (houses) look like they've been put in a blender and dropped on the ground, so you have basically a big pile of debris." The landslide near Oso, about 60 miles northeast of Seattle, has turned many lives upside down and cost far too many as well. District Chief Travis Hots said that at least seven more bodiesthat have been found won't be added to the count until medical examiners can identify them. "That number is going to likely change very, very much (Friday) morning," Hots said. About 90 remained unaccounted for Thursday as rescuers dug into the ground with chainsaws, pumps and their hands in hopes of finding survivors - or least bringing solace to family members by finding remains. That figure was the same as it was on Wednesday, though it, too, could change. "Sometimes it takes several hours to get somebody out of an area," Hots said. When a body is extracted, "You can almost hear a pin drop out there. You see seasoned veterans in this business, they start to tear up. Their eyes get glossy." No survivors have been found for days, but this still isn't a recovery operation. Rescuers are using small excavators, shovels and their hands - not heavy machinery - in areas where a survivor could be. Workers worked Thursday to build an east-west emergency road to reconnect both sides of the landslide, along with pathways of plywood and logs to make it easier to get people and equipment into the search zone. Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said those crews and those looking for victims had a productive day Thursday.