Washington landslide searchers shift focus to recovery efforts

Workers Search Landslide Debris

(CNN) — The work in Washington state communities shattered by a landslide in late March has turned its focus from searching for missing bodies to a rebuilding operation, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.

Forty-one people have been confirmed dead and identified. Two people remain missing, but “essentially the active search has ended,” Shari Ireton told CNN.

A rain-saturated hillside along the Stillaguamish River gave way on the outskirts of the rural town of Oso on March 22. Search crews had been digging through deep mud and debris, which is 70 feet thick in some places, to search for the missing.

“We are looking at recovery and rebuilding,” Ireton said, referring to clearing and repairing roads damaged or covered by the slide.

Steven Hadaway and Kris Regelbrugge were never found.

Frank Hadaway told CNN affiliate KCPQ that he has peace even though his brother’s body may never be found.

One resident, who found his sister’s body in her car two weeks ago, said the search needs to continue.

“There’s a lot of people that want to keep going,” Dayn Brunner told KCPQ. “And there’s a lot of people that will even do it for free. We just want everybody out.”

The search is not entirely over as some workers “will still be monitoring for possible victim’s remains,” Ireton said.

By Mayra Cuevas and Steve Almasy

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