SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — A landslide in northern Washington state killed three people, destroyed at least six houses and cut off a small town, authorities said Saturday.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said, in addition to those dead, seven adults and a 6-month-old child were rescued and sent to local hospitals. One of the victims died after being rescued and transported for treatment.
The first reports of the landslide came in around 10:45 a.m. (1:45 p.m. ET) along State Road 530, the sheriff’s office said.
Photos provided by the Washington State Patrol show floodwaters and sprawling debris covering a rural patch of that two-lane road, framed by woodlands and snow-capped mountains.
CNN first learned of the landslide via Twitter.
Groundwater saturation tied to heavy rainfall in the area over the past month was blamed for the landslide, which authorities say measured at least 45 yards wide.
Because it blocked SR 530, the landslide cut off Darrington, a town of about 1,350 people located 75 miles northeast of Seattle and within close proximity to Round Mountain, Whitehorse Mountain and White Chuck Mountain. Part of the Stillaguamish River also was blocked.
Residents got reverse 911 calls warning them of “flooding upstream from the slide, as well as the possibility of a downstream flooding should there be a catastrophic breach by the river,” said Shari Ireton, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.
Gov. Jay Inslee expressed dismay later Saturday about the “tragedy in Oso,” the remote community of about 180 people 15 miles west of Darrington.
“On behalf of all Washingtonians, my condolences to the families who lost loved ones in (the) mudslide today,” Inslee tweeted.
The sheriff’s office noted that authorities are still assessing exactly how many structures the landslide affected, beyond the six confirmed so far.
A number of agencies have responded, including the state transportation and emergency management departments, the U.S. Navy and fire departments across Snohomish County.
Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters and state troopers heard calls for help, trooper Mark Francis said.
The Snohomish sheriff warned people to stay clear of trestles or bridges or anywhere near the Stillaguamish River downstream of the slide.
“Water could break through at any moment,” the sheriff’s office tweeted.
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