Death Toll from Washington State Landslide Rises

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-03_6828d6d700.jpgDavid Ryder/Getty Images (OSO, Wash.) -- The official death count from the March 22 landslide near Oso, Wash., is now at 21 with 15 identified and six awaiting official identification. Snohomish County officials, who have been leading the search for any signs of life amid the mountain of shifting rubble, have also dropped the number of missing and unaccounted for down to 30 from 90.

Jason Biermann, program manager for the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, admits an actual count of fatalities might never be possible since in some instances, only partial remains have been located.

Biermann told reporters, "The slide hit with such force that often the rescuers are not recovering full, intact victims," which can make identification that much more difficult.

Any remains that can't be identified won't be counted with the official death toll. There are estimates of body parts from as many as 10 people.

Confirmation of death comes through identification by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.

As for the deep drop in those missing and unaccounted for, names started getting crossed off the list through investigation and people learning that they were among those who couldn't be found.

Reportedly, one person who lived next to the local Post Office was surprised he was listed as missing.

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