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US landslide town knew risks, officials insist

Published on Mar 27, 2014 6:28 AM

ARLINGTON (AFP) - The US town devastated by a monster mudslide that has claimed up to 24 lives so far was warned four years ago of the risk but residents felt safe anyway, officials said on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

As workers probed the disaster site for missing residents of Oso, Washington - the small town buried on Saturday under 2.5 sq km of earth and timber - emergency preparedness officials defended their performance.

They pointed to a 2010 report commissioned after a major landslide in 2006 pinpointed the hillside overlooking Oso as among the most dangerous in terms of possible collapse.

Townspeople "knew the risk, but they felt safe in the small events," Mr John Pennington, head of the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, told reporters.

A worker uses a chainsaw to break up a tree in the mudslide near Oso, Washington as rescue efforts continue on March 26, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
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