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Washington state county eyes building ban after deadly mudslide: reports

Rescue workers work in a debris field left by a mudslide in Oso, Washington April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Rescue workers work in a debris field left by a mudslide in Oso, Washington April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Snohomish County was on Wednesday to consider a six-month ban on new construction in landslide-prone areas countywide after a slide last month that killed 41 people, local media reported.

A rain-soaked hillside collapsed above the Stillaguamish River on March 22 unleashing a torrent of mud that swallowed up a stretch of state highway and about three dozen homes near the small community of Oso, about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office said the remains of 41 victims had been recovered from the slide that buried the river valley neighborhood in the Cascade mountain foothills.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday visited the site, offering condolences to the families of victims, encouragement to rescue workers and promises of government support.

The Snohomish County Council was to vote on the proposed moratorium on construction within a half-mile of landslide hazard areas defined by the county, council president Dave Somers said, according to local media.

The ban, which would not include projects with completed permits or building applications, would give officials time to assess risks and develop new policies as needed, Somers was quoted as saying.

Somers, and other Snohomish County officials, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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