Number of missing from Washington slide plummets

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Searchers pause for a moment of silence at the scene of a deadly mudslide Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Oso, Wash. Besides the more than two dozen bodies already found, many more people could be buried in the debris pile left from the mudslide one week ago. Ninety people are listed as missing. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Pool)

Searchers pause for a moment of silence at the scene of a deadly mudslide Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Oso, Wash. Besides the more than two dozen bodies already found, many more people could be buried in the debris pile left from the mudslide one week ago. Ninety people are listed as missing. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Pool)

Rev. Michael De Luca offers a prayer before rescue workers and volunteers pause during a state-wide moment of silence to honor the victims of the Oso mud slide in front of the Darrington, Wash., on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Gov. Jay Inslee had asked people across Washington to pause at 10:37 a.m. The huge slide that destroyed a neighborhood in Oso north of Seattle struck at that time on March 22. Authorities say they’ve found at least 25 bodies and scores remain missing. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)

Workers and volunteers observe a moment of silence outside of the Oso Fire Department at 10:37 a.m. Saturday, March 29, 2014, exactly one week after a fatal mudslide struck just east of the small community in Washington State. (AP Photo/ The Herald, Mark Mulligan)

Searchers carry bags of personal belongings collected at the scene of a deadly mudslide Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Oso, Wash. Besides the more than two dozen bodies already found, many more people could be buried in the debris pile left from the mudslide one week ago. Ninety people are listed as missing. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Pool)

Searchers pause for a moment of silence at the scene of a deadly mudslide Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Oso, Wash. Besides the more than two dozen bodies already found, many more people could be buried in the debris pile left from the mudslide one week ago. Ninety people are listed as missing. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Pool)

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DARRINGTON, Wash. (AP) — As crews using heavy equipment, dogs and their bare hands searched in heavy rain for more victims from a deadly Washington landslide, authorities said Saturday that the number of people believed missing had dropped substantially.

The missing list decreased from 90 to 30. Officials previously said they expected that figure to fall as they worked to find people safe and cross-referenced a “fluid” list that likely included partial reports and duplicates.

As the number of people unaccounted for went down, the fatalities went up.

The official death toll of victims identified by the medical examiner on Saturday increased by one, to 18, said Jason Biermann, program manager at the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

Authorities have recovered more than two dozen bodies — including one on Saturday — but they aren’t added to the official tally until a formal identification is made.

Underscoring the difficulty of identifying those killed in one of the deadliest landslides in U.S. history, Biermann said crews are not always discovering complete remains.

“Rescuers are not always making full recoveries,” he said. “Often, they are making partial recoveries.”

A week after the small mountainside community of Oso north of Seattle was destroyed, the search was going “all the way to the dirt” as crews looked for anything to provide answers for family and friends

All work on the debris field halted briefly Saturday for a moment of silence to honor those lost. Gov. Jay Inslee had asked people across Washington to pause at 10:37 a.m., the time the huge slide struck on March 22.

“People all over stopped work — all searchers — in honor of that moment,” Snohomish County Fire District 1 battalion chief Steve Mason said.

An American flag had been run up a tree and then down to half-staff at the debris site, he said.

Dan Rankin, mayor of the nearby logging town of Darrington, said the community had been “changed forevermore.”

“It’s going to take a long time to heal, and the likelihood is we will probably never be whole,” he said.

Among the dozens of missing are Adam Farnes, and his mother, Julie.

“He was a giant man with a giant laugh,” Kellie Howe said of Farnes. Howe became friends with him when he moved to the area from Alaska. She said Adam Farnes was the kind of guy who would come into your house and help you do the dishes.

Adam Farnes also played the banjo, drums and bass guitar, she said, and had worked as a telephone lineman and a 911 dispatcher.

“He loved his music loud,” she said.

Finding and identifying all the victims could stretch on for a very long time, and authorities have warned that not everyone may ultimately be accounted for.

Rescuers have given a cursory look at the entire debris field 55 miles northeast of Seattle, said Steve Harris, division supervisor for the eastern incident management team. They are now sifting through the rest of the fragments, looking for places where dogs should give extra attention. Only “a very small percentage” has received the more thorough examination, he said.

Dogs working four-hour shifts have been the most useful tool, Harris said, but they’re getting hypothermic in the rain and muck.

Commanders are making sure people have the right gear to stay safe in the rain and potentially hazardous materials, and they’re keeping a close eye on the level of the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River to be sure nobody is trapped by rising water.

At the debris site Saturday, Mason, the battalion chief, said teams first do a hasty search of any wreckage of homes they find. If nothing is immediately discovered, they do a more detailed, forensic search.

“We go all the way to the dirt,” he said.

Crews are also collecting bags of personal

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