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Washington landslide: Over 170 reports of missing people

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Monday, March 24, 2014, 6:36 PM -

Washington state officials are actively searching for survivors after a mudslide in the rural area of Oso over the weekend.

So far, 14 people have been confirmed dead, but the number of unaccounted for has risen significantly.

On Monday, officials said they are now looking into over 170 reports of people missing or unaccounted for -- but it's important to break the number down.

Rescue crews say that it names -- and even vague identities -- are contributing to the more than 170 reports of missing people.

That number is expected to decrease dramatically over the next several days. 


RELATED: Rescuers in Washington in desperate race to find survivors of deadly landslide 


Officials say there were 59 lots in the slide zone -- and that 49 of those lots had a structure on them, either in the form of an RV  or a home.

At least 25 of those structures were occupied full time, 10 of them part-time, and the others unknown.

Aircraft and search and rescue dogs, in addition to people on the ground with electronic equipment, have been brought in to help with search efforts.

The slide occurred around 10:45 a.m. Saturday. Because of the quicksand-like mud, authorities said it was too dangerous to send rescuers into the stricken area initially.

Searchers instead flew over the 2.6-square-kilometre mudslide in helicopters, looking for signs of life. 

Now, as time stretches on, the outlook is becoming increasingly grim when it comes to finding survivors.

LANDSLIDES A COSTLY DISASTER

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), landslides occurs in almost every state in the United States. "It is estimated that in the United States, they cause in excess of $1 billion in damages and from about 25 to 50 deaths each year," the agency writes.

"Globally, landslides cause hundreds of billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries each year."

While it's impossible to completely eradicate the risk of dangerous slides, the USGS says that geologic investigations, good engineering practices, and effective enforcement of land-use management regulations are helping to reduce the risk.

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