DARRINGTON, Wash. — Families coping with the loss of friends and neighbors sought comfort Sunday in church services, while crews searched for more victims of the mudslide that buried the mountainside community of Oso more than a week ago.

Authorities revised the number of people believed to be missing from 90 to 30, and the official death toll increased to 21 on Sunday.

Officials had expected the number of missing to change as they worked to find people safe and cross-referenced a list that probably included partial information and duplicate reports.

Searchers have recovered more than two dozen bodies, but they will not be added to the official tally until a formal identification is made. Underscoring the difficulty of that task, crews are not always discovering complete remains, said Jason Biermann, program manager at the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.


As the efforts in Oso, Wash., continued, the Glad Tidings Assembly of God and other churches in nearby Darrington offered prayers.
As the efforts in Oso, Wash., continued, the Glad Tidings Assembly of God and other churches in nearby Darrington offered prayers.Jason Redmond/REUTERS

The slide, which hit March 22 about 55 miles northeast of Seattle, was one of the deadliest in US history.

Many of the dogs that have been essential in the search will take a two-day break, rescue crews said Sunday. Days of working in the cold and rain have taken their toll on the animals, and officials say the dogs can lose their sensing ability if overworked.

‘‘The conditions on the slide field are difficult, so this is just a time to take care of the dogs,’’ said Kris Rietmann, a spokeswoman for the team working on the eastern portion of the slide.

Dogs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that arrived more recently will continue working, said Heidi Amrine, another spokeswoman for the operation.

Rescuers should get some relief soon. Conditions were improving Sunday, and mainly dry weather is forecast Monday through Wednesday in western Washington.

The size of the debris field is also smaller than initially thought, officials said Sunday. After review and analysis, geologists have determined it is about 300 acres, just under half the size of an earlier projection of 1 square mile.


Searchers have had to contend with treacherous conditions, including septic tanks, gasoline, and propane containers.

When rescuers and dogs leave the site, they are hosed off by hazardous materials crews.