Arlington, Washington: As more bodies were found in the remains of the deadly Oso mudslide in rural Washington state, there was a glimmer of good news with a video of the dramatic helicopter rescue on Saturday of a four-year-old boy trapped in a mountain of clay.
Members of the Snohomish County helicopter rescue team are seen in the video jumping from the helicopter and trying to grab the boy, Jacob Spillers, from the muck.
The boy was home with his father and three siblings watching TV when the mudslide hit, obliterating their street. Jacob was found within hours.
Air Force personnel join civilian workers in efforts to find missing persons following a deadly mudslide in Oso, Washington. Photo: Reuters
"He was on the mudslide, stuck in the mud," said Kevin Ryce, a cousin of Jacob's father, Billy Spillers, who flew from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to search for his family. Mr Spillers is a chief petty officer in the navy.
A picture of the toddler being rescued keeps Mr Ryce going. The photo shows Jacob, his face blurred, in a T-shirt and undies, his legs covered in dirt and mud.
"This is Jacob getting rescued by helicopter after they pulled his body out of the mud," said Mr Ryce, pointing to the snapshot.
Jacob's mother, Jonielle, was at work. She has been reunited with Jacob, who is in good health. But Mr Spillers and their three other children - Brooke, Kaylee and Jovon - are missing.
Jacob was on the second floor and the only one able to get out of the house, it was reported.
Mr Ryce was planning to go into the mud and debris on Wednesday to dig. "You have to be out here with them, no matter what," he said. "I don't like knowing that they're still up there, still missing."
The death toll in the devastating landslide is expected to rise "substantially" in the next day or two, an official said. The confirmed number of dead stands at 16, with at least eight more bodies believed located, and there are 90 others listed as missing.
But Snohomish County district fire chief Travis Hots said bodies were not being included in the official death toll until they had been recovered and "medical officers have done their difficult work".
"You're going to see these numbers increase substantially" in the next 24-48 hours, he said.
A total of 49 dwellings in the rural town were hit by the 2.5-square-kilometre wall of mud, rocks and trees, which also destroyed part of a highway 95 kilometres north-east of Seattle.
More than 200 rescue workers have been working in grim conditions for the past five days.