More victims found in Washington mudslide

, Posted: Mon, March 31 2014 at 9:56 AM, Updated: Mon, March 31 2014 at 10:01 AM

Oso, Wash. -- (NBC News) The number of people confirmed dead in the Oso mudslide that devastated the Washington state town has risen from 18 to 21, Snohomish County authorities said Sunday evening.

Of the 21 victims confirmed by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner, six were unidentified Sunday, according to Jason Biermann, spokesman for the county Department of Emergency Management.

Four victims were discovered in the debris field by search crews on Sunday — but those people were not included in the official list of the deceased, Biermann said.

The number of people missing or unaccounted for has dropped drastically from 90 to 30, officials said Saturday.

That number had previously been as high as 176, and had many worried that the death toll could be that high — although officials have repeatedly stressed that there were many duplicate names on the list.

Meanwhile, rescue crews said Sunday that many of the dogs key to the search for victims will take a two-day break. The search dogs’ sensing ability can deteriorate if overworked amid cold and rainy conditions.

“The conditions on the slide field are difficult, so this is just a time to take care of the dogs," Kris Rietmann, a spokeswoman for the rescue team working on the eastern portion of the slide, according to the Associated Press.

Dogs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that arrived in the community more recently will continue working, the wire service reported.

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