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Death Toll From Mudslide 'Will Only Increase'

Officials expect to release more information later today about the death toll from last weekend's massive mudslide in Oso, Wash., and they're warning that the news is going to be grim.

"We understand there has been confusion over the reported number of fatalities," Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots said Thursday. "The sadness here is that we know this number will only increase."

As the day began, the official death toll was 17, and authorities were saying that another nine bodies had been located. But 90 names remained on a list of those reported to be missing.

The difficult search for victims continues. The Seattle Times writes that on Thursday, crews "sifted through new parts of mudslide wreckage after receding water levels on the east side of the slide area uncovered debris that previously had been inaccessible. Floodwaters from the slide-blocked North Fork of the Stillaguamish River had previously made it difficult for crews to spot the pancaked homes and crushed cars they found Thursday."

Our colleagues at KUOW have gathered their coverage of the disaster here. KPLU's reports are collected here.

Update at 12:10 p.m. ET. No New Details Yet:

At a news briefing moments ago, Fire Chief Hots said the official death toll remains at 17. He expects an update on the figures later today.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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