The death toll in the rural Washington state mudslide was raised on Tuesday to 27, with eight of those victims still unidentified so far.

According to a communique issued by health authorities in Snohomish County, where what is considered to be the worst local catastrophe in the past century took place, 22 people remain missing after a waterlogged hillside gave way on March 22, burying a number of homes in the community of some 200 residents located 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Seattle.

Since then, the number of known dead has been rising day by day, while the number of missing persons, which started out at 170, has been falling.

On Monday, the number of missing was dropped to 22, but the fact that the mud in some places is up to 23 meters (75 feet) deep is complicating the search for bodies.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to declare Snohomish County a disaster area, a move that would allow local residents and companies to gain access to emergency federal economic aid.

In recent days, numerous documents have come to light, including geological studies and government communications, showing that both residents of the area and local authorities were aware of the risk of a landslide. EFE