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Death toll rises to 36 in Washington state mudslide

Rescue workers look for victims in the mudslide near Oso, Washington March 26, 2014. 
CREDIT: REUTERS/RICK WILKING
Rescue workers look for victims in the mudslide near Oso, Washington March 26, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/RICK WILKING

(Reuters) - The death toll in a mudslide that buried much of a rural Washington state community last month rose to 36 on Wednesday after medical examiners extricated one more body from the rubble.

A rain-soaked hillside collapsed without warning above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River on March 22, unleashing a torrent of mud that engulfed some three dozen homes on the outskirts of the tiny community of Oso.

Of the 36 people confirmed dead, 32 have been positively identified including a 58-year-old man on Wednesday, Snohomish County officials said in a statement. The death toll had stood at 35 on Tuesday.

Recovery crews were still searching for another 10 missing people, including two children, down from 11 on Monday. Efforts have been hampered by rain, which has created treacherous conditions and raised the risk of further slides and flash floods.

President Barack Obama will stop in Oso on April 22 and plans to view the devastation and meet with families of those affected by the disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers.

No one has been pulled alive from the rubble since the landslide, when at least eight people were injured but survived. Rescue teams have since found no signs of life.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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