Weary mudslide rescuers battle rain, exhaustion in quest to find bodies, maybe a miracle

DARRINGTON, Wash. (AP) — Rescuers in hip waders have been pushing on through rain and exhaustion, searching for more bodies and perhaps a miracle in the pile of mud and debris that laid waste to the rural town of Oso in Washington state.

At least 26 people are known to have been killed in Saturday's mudslide. Nine of those bodies have been located but not recovered, while the list of those unaccounted for still totals 90. Officials are warning the community that a higher toll will be announced Friday morning.

The official death toll rose to 17 late Thursday as the Snohomish (snoh-HOH'-mish) County medical examiner's office announced it had received the body of an infant recovered earlier in the day.

At this point, digging is the only method being used to narrow the list of the missing. Emergency officials say they have stopped conducting door-to-door searches or calling relatives in hopes of locating people who haven't checked in yet.

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298-a-10-(Chief Travis Hots, Snohomish (snoh-HOH'-mihsh) County Fire Districts 21 and 22, at new conference)-"now with that"-Snohomish County District Fire Chief Travis Hots says the death toll from the mudslide is likely to jump Friday morning when it is updated. ((refers to Friday as 'tomorrow')) (27 Mar 2014)

<<CUT *298 (03/27/14)££ 00:10 "now with that"

296-a-15-(John Pennington, director, Snohomish (snoh-HOH'-mihsh) County Emergency Management, in news conference)-"extraordinarily resilient community"-Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington says the community is staying positive. (27 Mar 2014)

<<CUT *296 (03/27/14)££ 00:15 "extraordinarily resilient community"

297-a-19-(John Pennington, director, Snohomish (snoh-HOH'-mihsh) County Emergency Management, in news conference)-"that for free"-Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington says he's called in some additional help. ((note length of cut)) (27 Mar 2014)

<<CUT *297 (03/27/14)££ 00:19 "that for free"

294-a-19-(Chief Travis Hots, Snohomish (snoh-HOH'-mihsh) County Fire Districts 21 and 22, in news conference)-"is very slim"-Snohomish County District Fire Chief Travis Hots says there's still hope that more people will be found alive. ((note length of cut)) (27 Mar 2014)

<<CUT *294 (03/27/14)££ 00:19 "is very slim"

APPHOTO NC102: AP10ThingsToSee - This aerial photo taken Monday, March 24, 2014 shows the massive mudslide that killed at least eight people Saturday and left dozens missing, near Arlington, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (24 Mar 2014)

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APPHOTO WATW441: Standing trees and downed trees line the side edge of a massive mudslide Thursday, March 27, 2014, that struck Saturday near Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, Pool) (27 Mar 2014)

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APPHOTO WATW435: Workers use heavy equipment to clear trees and other debris, Thursday, March 27, 2014, as the search continued for victims of the massive mudslide that struck Saturday near Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, Pool) (27 Mar 2014)

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