TODAY

TODAY   |  March 26, 2014

Brother of mudslide victim: ‘Dark day’ for family

The death toll rises to 16 in the horrific mudslide in the state of Washington as more bodies are located overnight. Family members of victims are speaking out. About 200 people are helping with the search. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> overnight, as well. over the devastating mudslide in washington state . emergency crews located even more victims over the night. nbc's joe fryer in darrington, washington, this morning. joe , good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. the massive search will resume today with the death toll still rising . two more bodies were recovered bringing the official death toll to 16. but officials say they've located as many as eight more bodies that have not yet been recovered. there could be as many as 24 victims with many still missing.

>> reporter: rescue teams are still searching for signs of life . but after another day of looking through the massive mudslide, all they found was disappointment.

>> unfortunately, we didn't find any signs of life . we didn't locate anybody alive.

>> relatives confirmed one of the victims is christina jeffers, their 4-month-old granddaughter is still missing. overnight, hundreds gathered for a candle light vigil. and in the logging town of darrington, train volunteers were allowed to help out.

>> the last three days, the most effective tool has been dogs and just our bare hands and shovels uncovering people.

>> dean brunner is searching for his sister.

>> my mom wants to hold her one last time, and i'm going to make sure that happens.

>> he ventured into the slide zone documenting his heartbreaking mission.

>> well, today's a dark day for this family.

>> reporter: he thinks the mud is at least 10 feet deep where he's standing.

>> it's just devastation. somewhere out there is my sister.

>> we just want him home.

>> another searcher was injured, hit in the head by debris and twisted his knee while searching for his brother. meanwhile, five pulled from the debris on saturday are still being treated.

>> people with brain injuries , rib fractures, pelvic fractures and extremity injuries, as well.

>> the mudslide hit with no warning saturday morning when many people were home.

>> there's a mudslide. the houses are gone!

>> reporter: officials say a small earthquake 12 days earlier may have contributed to the slide. in 2006 , a smaller portion of the same hillside gave way. and in 1999 , a report from the u.s. army corps of engineers warned of the potential for a large, catastrophic failure here.

>> we've done everything we can to protect them. we mitigated the landslide from 2006 . there's been warnings and advanced notifications of the high risk of landslide.

>> reporter: about 200 people are now helping with this search, including teams from fema and the national guard . savannah?

>> i know they'll be back at it today, joe , but what are the conditions as they try to dig through this debris?

>> reporter: with the rainy weather right now, they're describing the conditions as very difficult. it can be hard getting in and out of the search zone. some who have been in there have described it as walking in quicksand. the fire chief said it was like walking on ice. the other thing that has struck people is the sheer magnitude and power of this mudslide. they say they've seen cars that have been torn and shredded. some crumpled into a ball because of the incredible power of this mudslide. people realize mudslides are a risk, but no one expected anything like this. savannah?

>> just devastating. joe fryer, thank