TODAY | March 24, 2014
>> in washington.
>> look out. i want to show you some pictures before and after pictures. here's that area of the mud slide before. you can see the ridge in the center. that's highlighted right there. had some slides in the past. now let's go to the after picture and watch what happens. that whole area comes free. a mudslide that goes from right to left. and that's where the search is focused right now. our top story, as well. many of the roads in that area unrecognizable. you can see why rescue crews were having a difficult time. miguel almaguer has the latest on this. miguel, good morning to you.
>> reporter: good morning. as soon as the sunrises here, rescue teams will once again scour the debris field. it's too dangerous in the darkness. the concern is that at least eight are dead and another 18 are missing. and they fear both of those numbers could rise.
>> this is what rescue teams face today. a wave of mud 20 feet deep. one square mile of rocks, tree and debris. here in the rubble is where the search grows more desperate.
>> the conditions are very, very muddy in places, it is still like quick sand . we weren't able to search the entire debris field.
>> this is a major slide.
>> reporter: triggered saturday by a rain-soaked mountain, a massive chunk of hillside suddenly gave way. there was no warning, nowhere to run . the torrent of mud swept over cars. pleas for help could be heard for 12 hours.
>> we're hearing cries, possibly a child.
>> rescue teams pulled a 6-month-old boy and six others from the mud alive.
>> the voices they're hearing are encased in 20 foot of mud.
>> john and chris are among those missing.
>> if someone can survive, it's him.
>> reporter: on social media , the faces and stories of those who vanished are being shared by their families. loved ones both young and old. reed miller tries his son joseph every hour. he fears he'll never see him again.
>> i just kind of picture the house being ripped up and him in there.
>> reporter: this morning, the mudslide is over. but for families, the pain has just begun.
>> though, authorities do fear that the death toll here will rise. they say there is one piece of good news, a local river was blocked by mudslides. and there was fear there would be catastrophic flooding. that fear has diminished. matt and savannah.
>> thank you very much.