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Northwest News Network

Landslide Death Toll Rises, Number Of Missing Drops

Diners at the Bluebird Café in downtown Arlington, Washington observe a moment of silence to mark one week since the landslide disaster.
Diners at the Bluebird Café in downtown Arlington, Washington observe a moment of silence to mark one week since the landslide disaster.

The death toll has risen to 18 following the devastating landslide near Oso, Washington, but the number of people missing has fallen dramatically -- down to 30.

Searchers are still pulling bodies from the debris -- sometimes in pieces.

Steve Schertzinger, a chaplain with the nearby Marysville Police Department, describes what it was like to deliver bad news to a grieving family member.

"We sat down and I just said well, the waiting is over. And then I cried. I cried."

And Schertzinger says he expects the sorrow to hang over this community long after the search for victims is done.

"This was not an event. This really is a whole season. So it won't even be over when the last body is found. It will continue on."

Heavy rain continues to hamper search teams. But crews have managed to finish a primitive road linking one side of the landslide site to the other.

That will aide recovery crews but it's not open to the general public.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network