Death Toll Rising in Washington State Mudslide

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The death toll from the mudslide in Washington state is continuing to climb Tuesday, with at least 14 people confirmed dead and 176 still missing.

The slide struck Saturday, about 55 miles north of Seattle when most people were home. More than 30 houses were destroyed.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for the area. The National Guard has also joined search efforts but rainy conditions are making it difficult.

Desperate family members are using chainsaws and their bare hands to dig through the rubble to find their loved ones.
        
"There was a seventh grader at my old school, my middle school post - and his name was Jo-Jo and we found out today that he died and it's really unfortunate because he doesn't deserve to die at such a young age," Hannah Jensen, a friend of a victim, said.

Darrington resident Rae Smith is desperate for answers about her 36-year-old daughter, who was driving on highway 530 when the mountain gave way.

"My daughter, my 16-year-old, my adult son and his two young sons were down there digging with their hands, trying to find her, trying to find any sign of her," she said.

Authorities believe the slide was caused by heavy rainfall softening the ground above the homes.

"Most of us in these communities don't believe we will not find any individuals alive. But I'm a man of faith and I believe in miracles," John Pennington, with the Department of Emergency Management, said.

Meanwhile, the Kuntz family, who lost their home and two loved ones, expressed gratitude that at least their dog survived

"I just broke down crying, really happy that my dog was alright," Quinton Kuntz told KOMO News. "I'm just shocked how well he did against my whole house falling on him." 

Officials say the number of missing is expected to drop since many of the reports may be duplicates.

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