DARRINGTON, Wash. – Becky Bach watches and waits, hoping that search crews find her brother and three other relatives who are missing in Washington state’s deadly mudslide.
Doug Massingale waits too, for word about his 4-month-old granddaughter.
With little hope to cling to, family members of the missing are beginning to confront a grim reality: Their loved ones might never be found, remaining entombed forever inside a mountain of mud that is believed to have claimed more than 20 lives
Search crews using dogs, bulldozers and their bare hands kept slogging through the mess of broken wood and mud again Wednesday, looking for more bodies or anyone who might still be alive nearly five days after a wall of fast-moving earth destroyed a small rural community.
Wednesday afternoon Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said additional remains were found, but authorities declined to be more specific.
Previously, authorities said they believed they had found 24 bodies from the slide that swept through a rural area north of Seattle on Saturday.
Dozens of people remain unaccounted for, although that number is expected to go down.
Trying to recover every corpse would be impractical and dangerous.
The debris field is about a square mile and 30 to 40 feet deep in places, with a moon-like surface that includes quicksand-like muck, rain-slickened mud and ice. The terrain is difficult to navigate on foot and makes it treacherous or impossible to bring in heavy equipment.
The knowledge that some victims could be abandoned to the earth is difficult to accept.
“Realistically ... I honestly don’t think they’re going to find them alive,” Bach said, crying. “But as a family, we’re trying to figure out what to do if they find no bodies.”