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3 more Washington mudslide victims identified

4 names left on list of missing in debris

  • Washington-Mudslide-119

    Search workers use a dog to help search a pile of debris, Wednesday at the site of the massive deadly mudslide that hit the community of Oso, Wash. on March 22.

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Washington-Mudslide-120

    A large flag hangs next to instruments used to detect further land movement, Wednesday, April 16, 2014 on the upper edge of the massive deadly mudslide that hit the community of Oso, Wash. on March 22, 2014. The sensors are in place to protect workers searching for missing victims in the slide area below from other landslides. The death toll from the massive mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso last month has risen to 39, officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Washington-Mudslide-121

    A search worker uses a dog to help look through a pile of debris, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at the site of the massive deadly mudslide that hit the community of Oso, Wash. on March 22, 2014. The death toll from the massive mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso last month has risen to 39, officials said Wednesday. The area being searched is only recently accessible to searchers due to work done to divert water away from the slide area. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Washington-Mudslide-122

    A flag rests at half staff on a cedar pole, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, with the face of the massive deadly mudslide that hit the community of Oso, Wash. on March 22, 2014 behind it. The death toll from the massive mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso last month has risen to 39, officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Washington-Mudslide-123

    A search worker walks with a tool Wednesday, April 16, 2014, as the search continues for the remaining missing victims of the massive deadly mudslide that hit the community of Oso, Wash. on March 22, 2014. The death toll from the massive mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso last month has risen to 39, officials said Wednesday. Much of the area currently being searched is only recently accessible due to work done to divert water away from the slide area. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington-Mudslide-119

Search workers use a dog to help search a pile of debris, Wednesday at the site of the massive deadly mudslide that hit the community of Oso, Wash. on March 22.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

OSO, Wash.  — Authorities have identified three more bodies pulled from the debris of the mudslide that swept through the Washington town of Oso last month as crews dig through the devastation with a swarm of excavators.

All 39 victims recovered have been identified, the Snohomish County medical examiner’s office said today, and four names remain on the list of the missing.

The latest victims identified are Wyatt M. Ruthven, 4, of Arlington; Sandra K. Miller, 64, of Everett; and Ronald P. Dequilettes, 52, of Arlington. All died of multiple blunt force injuries.

The March 22 slide buried dozens of homes in the community 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Steady rain today complicated the search and recovery effort, and officials worried about rising water from the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

A steady run of dump trucks Wednesday piled tons of crushed rock to raise the height of a 3,000-foot-long berm constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has allowed workers to pump water out of a main search area and separate it from the river.

Nearly an inch of rain was expected on top of about 2 inches that had fallen since Tuesday night, said Gary Schneider, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

The pool behind the mudslide has risen about a foot and was expected to rise 2 more feet before cresting late today, he said. That could come close to spilling over the berm.

The rain adds to the agonizing mess for hundreds of workers searching the debris for bodies and starting to clear a mile-long stretch of Highway 530 covered up to 25 feet deep. Crews have been able to clear only about 100 feet of the highway each day, said Koreena Haynes, a spokeswoman for the incident command.

The state Transportation Department has been telling residents in meetings this week it could be fall before the highway is cleared, repaired and reopened. In the meantime, officials may allow residents with “passports” to use a service road that has been restricted to emergency crews.

Officials also are preparing for President Obama’s visit to the site on Tuesday. He plans to survey the damage and meet with victims and emergency responders.

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