Landslide tears apart 2 towns, leaves 24 dead

WASHINGTON - There was little in the way of a warning before the rain-saturated ground in Washington's Cascade Mountains gave way, sending a wall of mud through a portion of the towns of Oso and Darrington.

With as many as 24 dead and up to 176 people unaccounted for in the massive landslide that struck Saturday, search and rescue crews are digging through rocks, dirt and debris that are up to 20 feet deep in some places in what has become a race against time to find survivors.

As the search goes on, the stories of those who escaped and those who are searching for loved ones have begun to emerge:

"It is really flooding bad," the caller said. "... There's a roof of a house on the road."

Then there was another call. And another.

Within minutes, authorities knew this was something bigger than just a flooded, blocked roadway.

One minute, Michael Landon told a 911 dispatcher, his neighbor's house and a house on the other side of it were there. The next, they were gone.

"I am standing in the area now, and I can hear them tapping underneath and yelling at us," he told a 911 dispatcher.

Asked how many people he could hear, Landon said two.

"There should be three people in this house. We are trying to find the other," he said.

Still others appeared to be struggling to understand what had happened.

"Everything is gone. The houses are gone," a woman screamed into the telephone.

"...What happened? Can you tell me what happened?"

The answer from the dispatcher: "Landslide."

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