Washington state officials say hope is fading that anyone will be found alive as the search for survivors in the massive mudslide that struck a rural community in Snohomish County Saturday morning enters its fourth day.

U.S. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency Monday, freeing up federal funds for a major rescue effort, according to Washington state officials.

On Monday, six more bodies were discovered bringing the death toll to 14. Not a single survivor has been found.

Snohomish County emergency management director John Pennington says there may be none.

"I believe it’s fair at this point to say that most of us in these communities believe we will not find any individuals alive, " he told reporters at a news conference late Monday.

"I’m a man of faith and I believe in miracles and you’ve all reported on incidents worldwide where these things can turn on a dime and somebody can be found. So does that mean we give up? No. But I think we as a county, we as a community are beginning to realize, much like you, are that we are beginning to turn to a recovery operation."

The number of people reported missing also took a jump on Monday from 108 to 176.  But Pennington says the higher number is likely due to officials actively soliciting information, much of which consisted of vague descriptions of individuals that could easily be duplicates.

"The 176 is a number I believe very strongly that you're not going to see in fatalities," said Pennington. "I believe it's going to drop dramatically. Why did it increase today? Because we were successful in pulling in the information. It's as simple as that."

Search suspended for two hours

Pennington says the search for survivors was suspended for more than two hours Monday when rescuers were pulled back following concerns the debris field had become unstable.

"We started getting reports and some photos started coming in showing that it looked like a potential other portion of the slide might be moving, so the prudent, safe thing to do, is to pull back those first responders," he said.

Snohomish County public works director Steve Thompson says a helicopter went up and a team consisting of three geologists and a hydrologist examined the site and found "some sloughing" off the edge of the slide but nothing to worry about.

The 2.6-square-kilometre slide destroyed about 49 structures when a wall of mud and debris swept across 1.5 kilometres of State Route 530 near the community of Oso, about 88 kilometres north of Seattle Saturday morning.

Compressed mud like cement

Snohomish County Fire District Chief Travis Hots says searching the debris field is an enormous task because it is full of "big berms of clay and quicksand."

"Someone out there told me, 'You know chief, sometimes, it takes five minutes to walk 40, 50 feet and get our equipment over these berms,'" he said. "It's very challenging debris to walk across."

"One of the responders out there said, 'You know, when we do find a void space like a house where it's been smashed up, it's very tough to search those buildings because they've been collapsed and compressed with all of that material that's come down.'"

"He said it's like cement that has gone into those void spaces and it's very, very difficult to get in there and actually search."

Rescue officials have confirmed there were 49 parcels of land that had some sort of structure on them," said Pennington. He said 24 of the 49 homes were permanently occupied, and 10 were occupied part of the time or were vacation homes. Officials are still gathering information on the rest.

He said the tragedy is compounded by the fact the slide struck on the weekend when most people would be home and when contractors with scheduled work would be moving into the area.

"People were coming to work in yards, work on their homes. People were driving on 530, so it hit at probably just the wrong time."

Reed Miller waits for son

Local resident Reed Miller was waiting for word of his son who he hasn't heard from since the slide struck. Miller says he left his home, one of the closest to the slide, to get some groceries.

"My home is completely destroyed. I’ve seen aerial photos of the place and everything is completely destroyed, 27 homes. Some of the neighbours are missing. My one neighbour, a woman is missing and her granddaughter is missing. Another kid, who my grandson used to like to play with when he lived out here, he's missing"

Miller says there was a small slide in the area "a few years back." 

"And they came down and put in a wall to hold it in place and it was pretty stable, trees growing out of it and it's pretty stable you know. You didn't have to worry about that anymore."

Authorities believe this slide was caused by ground made unstable by recent heavy rainfall.

No survivors found

Search and rescue teams, who have been using helicopters and ground crews, have not found any signs of life despite reports Saturday night of survivors crying out for help.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as "a square mile of total devastation" after flying over the disaster area. He assured families that everything was being done to find their missing loved ones.

The area has a history of unstable land, and was the site of a smaller slide in 2006.

The slide also blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. With water pooling behind the debris, authorities are still worried about downstream flooding and are keeping an eye on the situation.

On Sunday,  the water began to seep through the blockage, but Pennington said Monday that the water behind the debris dam was continuing to back up along the north fork of the Stillaguamish.

Seven homes were reported to be flooded, some of had water up to the eaves.

"The bad news is that the water continues to rise," Pennington said.

"If there is a silver lining in that event, and it is tragic because it is people's homes, it is that it is a slow, methodical rise. You can see that danger."

On mobile? click here to view a before-and-after slider.

Google Map: Oso, Washington mudslide

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  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: A search and rescue team from Sacramento, California with cadaver dogs searches debris from a deadly mudslide on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Washington State Communities Continue To Deal With Aftermath Of Massive Mudslide

    ARLINGTON, WA - APRIL 05: People arrive for funeral services for thirty six year-old Summer Raffo, who was killed in the deadly Oso, Washington mudslide, at the Gleneagle Golf Course on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. The first of several funerals began today for the victims of the deadly Oso mudslide that ravaged the town killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Washington State Communities Continue To Deal With Aftermath Of Massive Mudslide

    DARRINGTON, WA - APRIL 5: People hold candles during a vigil for mudslide victims at the Darrington Community Center on April 5, 2014 in Darrington, Washington. A March 22 mudslide killed at least 30 and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • Washington State Communities Continue To Deal With Aftermath Of Massive Mudslide

    ARLINGTON, WA - APRIL 04: A crowd looks on during the 'Together Evening of Prayer' event at Haller Middle School on April 4, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. Hundreds of people attended the 'Together Evening of Prayer' to pay respect to the victims of a massive mudslide that ravished the town of Oso, Washington killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Marcus Yam-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Washington State Communities Continue To Deal With Aftermath Of Massive Mudslide

    ARLINGTON, WA - APRIL 05: Workers with Safety Shirtz look through piles of 'Oso Strong' t-shirts and sweatshirts that they are selling to raise money for victims of the Oso mudslide on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. Communites surrounding Oso, Washington continue to mourn nearly two weeks after a deadly mudslide ravaged the town killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Washington State Communities Continue To Deal With Aftermath Of Massive Mudslide

    ARLINGTON, WA - APRIL 04: A man wipes his eye during the 'Together Evening of Prayer' event at Haller Middle School on April 4, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. Hundreds of people attended the 'Together Evening of Prayer' to pay respect to the victims of a massive mudslide that ravished the town of Oso, Washington killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Marcus Yam-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: A search and rescue team from Sacramento, California sifts through debris from a deadly mudslide on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: A search and rescue team from Sacramento, California sifts through debris from a deadly mudslide on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    ARLINGTON, WA - APRIL 03: Yellow ribbons are tied around the trunks of trees in support of mudslide victims on April 3, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: A search and rescue team from Sacramento, California with cadaver dogs prepares to search debris from a deadly mudslide on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: Mud is seen caked on the boots of a search and rescue team from Sacramento, California on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: A search and rescue worker walks towards debris from a deadly mudslide on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: Search and rescue crews sift through debris from a deadly mudslide on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: Shovels used in the search and rescue effort wait to be decontaminated on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Search Efforts Continue For Mudslide Victims

    OSO, WA - APRIL 04: A national guardsman decontaminates a piece of heavy equipment used in the search and rescue effort on April 4, 2014 in Oso, Washington. Workers continue to sift through debris trying to locate missing people almost two weeks after a massive mudslide devastated the town of Oso, Washington, killing at least 30 people and leaving many missing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: A car sits in ruins in the aftermath of a mudslide and related flooding on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Search and rescue workers look for survivors in the aftermath of a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: A single boot is pictured amidst debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: A search and rescue worker and canine look for survivors in the aftermath of a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)

  • OSO, WA - MARCH 25: Crews work on Washington State Route 530 to clear debris from a mudslide on March 25, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 has killed at least fourteen and left scores missing. (Photo by Ted S. Warren-Pool/Getty Images)

  • ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 25: Nicholas Gaston (L) helps his mother, Erika Graham (R), light her candle during a candlelight vigil for mudslide victims on March 25, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 in nearby Oso, Washington killed at least sixteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 25: Snohomish County residents attend a candlelight vigil for mudslide victims on March 25, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 in nearby Oso, Washington killed at least sixteen and left many missing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 25: (L to R) Jennifer Johnson and her parents, Gail and Ron Thompson, and attend a candlelight vigil for mudslide victims on March 25, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. A massive mudslide on March 22 in nearby Oso, Washington killed at least sixteen and left many missing. Thompson coincidentally left her home minutes before the mudslide, but did lose friends and neighbors in addition to her home. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • A house is seen destroyed in the mud on Highway 530 next to mile marker 37 on Sunday, March 23, 2014, the day after a giant landslide occurred near mile marker 37 near Oso, Washington. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson, Pool)

  • The orange X on a house, destroyed in the mud, indicates it has been searched for people on Highway 530, Sunday, March 23, 2014 the day after a giant landslide occurred near Oso, Wash. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson, Pool)

  • SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from the Washington State Patrol, emergency workers examine debris after a mudslide March 22, 2014 in Snohomish County, Washington. (Photo by Washington State Patrol via Getty Images)

  • Senator Patty Muray speaks to the crowd during a media presser at Arlington City Hall on Sunday, March 23, 2014, the day after a giant landslide occurred near Oso, Wash. on Highway 530. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson, Pool)

  • SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from Washington State Dept of Transportation, an aerial of a mudslide that covered SR 530 March 22, 2014 between Darrington and Arlington, Washington. Eight people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide leveled homes and blocked a river and a road. (Photo by Washington State Dept of Transportation via Getty Images)

  • SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from the Washington State Patrol, People examine debris after a mudslide March 22, 2014 in Snohomish County, Washington. (Photo by Washington State Patrol via Getty Images)

  • SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from Washington State Dept of Transportation, an aerial view of the hill that originated the mudslide, the Stillaguamish River and SR 530 March 22, 2014 between Darrington and Arlington, Washington. (Photo by Washington State Dept of Transportation via Getty Images)

  • SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from the Washington State Patrol, cars line Highway 530 after a mudslide March 22, 2014 in Snohomish County, Washington. (Photo by Washington State Patrol via Getty Images)

  • SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: In this handout from the Washington State Patrol, people stand near a debris from a house that was hit by a mudslide on Highway 530 March 22, 2014 in Snohomish County, Washington. (Photo by Washington State Patrol via Getty Images)

  • SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON - MARCH 23: In this handout from Washington State Dept of Transportation, an aerial view of the hill that originated the mudslide March 23, 2014 between Darrington and Arlington, Washington. (Photo by Washington State Dept of Transportation via Getty Images)

  • ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: (NO SALES) A tire and other house debris sits next to the mudslide on Highway 530 next to mile marker 37 on March 23, 2014 near Arlington, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times-Pool/Getty Images)

  • ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: Search and rescue volunteers stop traffic at a road block on Washington State Route 530 after a deadly mudslide on March 23, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

  • ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: Washington Governor Jay Inslee addresses the media during a press conference after a deadly mudslide on March 23, 2014 in Arlington, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)