Washington slide kills 3; searchers seek survivors

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A wide aerial view shows the extensive damage of the landslide after taking out a chunk of earth from the side of the hill facing the Stillaguamish River, and down into the State Route 530, on the left, between the cities of Arlington and Darrington, on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Search and rescue operations are underway for survivors. (AP Photo/ The Seattle Times, Marcus Yam )

A wide aerial view shows the extensive damage of the landslide after taking out a chunk of earth from the side of the hill facing the Stillaguamish River, and down into the State Route 530, on the left, between the cities of Arlington and Darrington, on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Search and rescue operations are underway for survivors. (AP Photo/ The Seattle Times, Marcus Yam )

Neighbors gather at the Oso Fire Department to look for updates about the fatal mudslide that washed over homes and over Highway 530 east of Oso, Wash., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Highway 530 was closed in both directions, and authorities confirmed at least two fatalities by Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo /The Daily Herald, Annie Mulligan)

A fatal mudslide brought debris down the Stillaguamish River near Oso, Wash., Saturday, March 22, 2014, stopping the flow of the river and destroying several homes. (AP Photo/The Herald, Genna Martin)

This photo provided by the Washington State Patrol shows the aftermath of a mudslide that moved a house with people inside in Snohomish County on Saturday March 22, 2014. The Washington Department of Transportation says mud, trees and building materials are blocking both directions of State Route 530 near the town of Oso. Search and rescue operations are underway by Snohomish County crews and the Washington State Patrol. Spokesman Bart Treece of the Washington State Department of Transportation says he doesn’t know how long the two-lane rural road will be closed. He says drivers are advised to find another way to get between Darrington and Arlington. (AP Photo/Washington State Patrol)

Robin Youngblood survived the landslide that destroyed her house next to the North Fork of the Stillaguamish river Saturday, March 22, 2014. She is holding the only item that survived the disaster, a painting of a Cherokee warrior that was knocked from the wall and muddied. “It saved us.” she said. (AP Photo/ The Seattle Times,Mark Harrison) MANDATORY CREDIT TO: Mark Harrison / THE SEATTLE TIMES.

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SEATTLE (AP) — After hearing voices pleading for help, rescuers were “combing through the debris” in an overnight search for survivors from a massive mudslide in Washington state that killed at least three people and forced evacuations because of fears of severe flooding.

The slide of mud, trees and rocks happened about 11 a.m. Saturday morning. Several people – including an infant – were critically injured and at least six houses were destroyed.

Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said at a news briefing late Saturday that searchers weren’t giving up on finding more people alive.

“We have people who are yelling for our help, and we are going to take extreme risks,” Hots said.

It wasn’t clear how many people might still be trapped – or if more bodies might be discovered.

“This is still a rescue mission until we determine otherwise,” Hots said. “We don’t have a firm idea of how many people are out there.”

Shari Ireton, spokesperson for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office, said rescuers were using thermal imaging cameras to help try to find people.

The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, which prompted an evacuation notice because water was rising rapidly behind the debris. Authorities worried about severe downstream flooding if water suddenly broke through the blockage.

The landslide also completely covered State Route 530 near the town of Oso, about 55 miles north of Seattle. It was at least 135 feet wide and 180 feet deep and hit just before 11 a.m., Snohomish County authorities said.

The Snohomish County sheriff’s office reported that two people had been killed at the scene. Authorities later said one of the people who was rescued died at a hospital.

The injured included a 6-month-old boy, who was in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said two other victims were in critical condition — an 81-year-old man and a 37-year-old man — while a 58-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were in serious condition.

Five of the injured were brought to Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington, and one has already been treated and released, said hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Egger. She didn’t know the condition of the others.

The American Red Cross set up at the hospital, and evacuation shelters were created at Post Middle School in Arlington and the Darrington Community.

One eyewitness told the Daily Herald that he was driving on the roadway and had to quickly brake to avoid the mudslide.

“I just saw the darkness coming across the road. Everything was gone in three seconds,” Paulo Falcao told the newspaper.

Search-and-rescue help came from around the region, plus the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Hots said crews heard voices late Saturday night on the eastern edge of the debris field. Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said “we have rescuers on the ground on both sides of the slide who are going to be there all night, we’re combing through the debris field on the ground trying to rescue people.”

Air operations to aid rescuers were suspended, but authorities said they would resume at first light Sunday. Ireton also said the number of destroyed homes was expected to increase when crews had more time to assess the scene.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Sunday afternoon.

People who live in the North Fork’s flood plain, from the small communities of Oso to Stanwood, were urged to flee to higher ground.

Forecasters warned that some flooding was also possible north of the slide area. The

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