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Death toll in Washington state mudslide rises to 41

Rescuers search the large debris pile left by a mudslide in Oso, Washington, April 4, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Rescuers search the large debris pile left by a mudslide in Oso, Washington, April 4, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

(Reuters) - The official death toll from a mudslide that devastated a neighborhood in the Cascade foothills of Washington state last month rose to 41 on Monday, after search teams pulled two more bodies from the mud and rubble, county officials said.

A rain-soaked hillside collapsed above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River on March 22, unleashing a torrent of mud that clogged the river, swallowed up a stretch of a state highway and crushed some three dozen homes on the outskirts of the tiny community of Oso, 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

Among the 41 confirmed dead, 39 have been positively identified, Snohomish County officials said in a statement. A handful of people remain listed as missing.

Of the dead who have been identified, 22 are male and 17 female. They range in age from 4-month-old Sanoah Huestis, who died with her grandmother, to 91-year-old Bonnie Gullikson, whose husband was among those who escaped the disaster with injuries.

All the victims died of multiple blunt force injuries, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office.

Rescue teams have found no signs of life in the mud pile since the day of the disaster.

(Reporting by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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