Rescue crews are searching for survivors after a huge mudslide came down on homes in Snohomish County in northwest Washington, killing at least three.
County officials said Saturday night that they could hear cries for help from people trapped under debris.
“We’re going to take extreme risk to get them out of here tonight,” said John Pennington with the Department of Emergency Management.
Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said it wasn’t clear how many people might still be alive.
Three people were killed and at least six houses were destroyed.
At least eight people, including a six-month-old baby boy, were taken to a local hospital. The infant is in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to AP.
The slide cut off the city of Darrington and dammed up the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, causing the water to pool behind the dam.
First responders in Snohomish County called it the worst slide, the worst natural disaster, they’ve seen in decades.
“Think back to what Mount St. Helens and Toutle River looked like — and that’s what we’re looking at,” said Rodney Rochon, of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
The National Weather Service said the river level dropped from 3.1 feet to 0.9 feet in the hour after the slide occurred, confirming the river was blocked by the slide.
The state hydrologist measured 15-20 feet of debris blocking the river but a catastrophic flood event is unlikely, said KING 5 Meteorologist Mary Lee.
Since the landslide the river flow is 1,000 cubic feet per second, the National Weather Service said. For flooding to occur it would need to be 36,000 cubic feet per second.