Experts Warned of 'Catastrophic' Landslide in Wash.

'We’ve known it would happen at some point. We just didn’t know when.'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2014 10:50 AM CDT
Experts Warned of 'Catastrophic' Landslide in Wash.
Rescue workers remove a body from the wreckage of homes destroyed by a mudslide near Oso, Wash, March 24, 2014.   (AP Photo/, Joshua Trujillo)

"This came out of nowhere," a county official said yesterday of the landslide that killed at least 14 and left 176 more missing in Washington. "This was a completely unforseen slide." But geologists have actually been making dire predictions about the hill that collapsed since the 1950s, the Seattle Times reports. A 1999 report filed with the Army Corps of Engineers warned of "the potential for a large catastrophic failure." Report co-author Daniel Miller says he's always "known it would happen at some point."

"Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river," Miller says, particularly after a smaller slide hit in 2006. The risk is so well-known that geologists have given the hill nicknames like "Hazel Landslide," and residents once called it simply "Slide Hill." For much more on the area's history of instability, see the source. Meanwhile, rescue crews are hoping to "whittle down" the missing list today, and officials tell Fox News that they doubt all 176 are dead. But rain and fears the hill will slide more are hampering the search, USA Today reports. "It's like quicksand out there," the county fire chief says. (More mudslide stories.)

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