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Front Line View Shows Why Search For Landslide Victims Is Slow

Snohomish County
Rescuers are using construction equipment to help with the search for victims of Saturday's landslide near Oso, Wash.

Emergency managers in Snohomish County, Wash., are allowing a select number of relatives of the missing to join the search for victims from Saturday’s massive landslide.

Wednesday, the grim search continued across the mucky, grey debris pile near the village of Oso.

Search operations section chief Steve Mason says the view from up close shows why some distraught families are having to wait so long for closure.

“You hear the chain saw running? They’re cutting trees to get them smaller because all that timber that was up there on the hillside, is (now) laying with this stuff. People are under logs, mixed in. You know, it is a very slow process.”

Snohomish County’s emergency management director says he hopes to announce a decrease in the list of missing and unaccounted people later tonight.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.