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Officials Sifting Through 108 Reports of Missing in Mudslide

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Authorities have collected 108 reports about people missing in the Washington state mudslide, but officials cautioned that figure is expected to "decline dramatically."

Officials had previously said at least 18 people were missing in Saturday's disaster, which unleashed a deadly wave of mud onto a square mile of the town of Oso, about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

They have since consolidated a number of official and unofficial lists of names to come up with the new figure, but emphasized that many of the reports were vague and possibly outdated.

"The number is — no question — going to decline dramatically," said John Pennington, director of emergency management for Snohomish County.

Eight bodies have been found so far. None was found overnight Sunday into Monday.

"The situation is very grim," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said.

"We’re still holding out hope that we’re going to find people that are still alive — but keep in mind we have not found anyone alive on this pile since Saturday."

Monday's search and rescue operations will involve aircraft, search dogs, ground-probing equipment and heavy machines to move the dangerous mud.

"We're going to be working very, very hard out there," Hots said.

There were 49 residential structures on the affected land; 25 of them were homes that were occupied full-time.

Because the mudslide happened on a Saturday, more people were home than would have been on a weekday, officials said. Home improvement people were also in the area, along with motorists just driving through.

The area was hit by a less serious mudslide in 2006, but officials said Saturday's was unrelated. "This came out of nowhere," Pennington said.

— Tracy Connor

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