A massive mudslide in Washington claimed three lives and injured 8 others on Saturday morning, according to local authorities.
The landslide occurred in Snohomish County shortly before 11 a.m., Snohomish County authorities said, and it was possibly triggered by a week of heavy rainfall that swelled rivers in the region.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Washington mudslide was estimated to be about a mile long. It ended up blocking both directions of State Route 530 near the town of Oso, roughly 55 miles north of Seattle. Emergency crews, including fire departments and law enforcement teams, worked to clear the debris and search for people who may be trapped in the landslide.
Several news outlets reported initially that at least two people were killed in the mudslide when a house with people still inside got swooped up by it and carried across the highway.
"Initial reports were that a house was stuck in the slide, and someone was calling for help inside," Trooper Mark Francis told the Associated Press.
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According to the A.P., at least five people were injured in the slide. They were all taken to a nearby hospital to be treated, but the injuries were reportedly not life-threatening.
Authorities are not sure how long the two-lane road will be closed, but they have advised drivers to find another way to travel between Darrington and Arlington.
Mudlsides are similar to avalanches and occur when mud and other debris becomes unhinged from the ground beneath it and quickly moves down a steep slope. They are most likely to take place after a heavy rainfall or when snow melts rapidly.
Landslides of this nature are very dangerous and unpredictable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, landslides and debris flow cause 25 to 50 deaths in the U.S. annually. The main hazard is the fast-moving water and debris that can cause serious trauma to any caught in their path.