The death toll from a mudslide that has left 90 people missing in Washington state appeared certain to climb nearly a week after the disaster, as anguished relatives turned to the Internet and word of mouth for scarce scraps of new information.

At least 26 people were killed when a rain-soaked hillside collapsed without warning last Saturday, unleashing a towering wall of mud that flattened dozens of homes in a river valley near the rural town of Oso, about 55 miles (89 km) northeast of Seattle.

While fire officials directing search operations at the disaster site have spoken of making slow but steady progress in recovering remains of victims buried in the slide, the tally of the dead has changed little in recent days, even as the number of those listed as missing has held steady.

The lag appears related to a methodical protocol being followed by Snohomish County emergency management officials and medical examiners.

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