Searchers find body of second child killed in Minnesota mudslide

Reuters News
Posted: May 23, 2013 2:54 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Searchers on Thursday found the body of a second fourth-grader killed when a landslide swept students, who were on a fossil-hunting field trip, into a pit full of water and mud at a park in St. Paul, Minnesota, authorities said.

The body of one student had been pulled from the pit after the landslide Wednesday afternoon, which injured two other students, but rescuers were unable to find the missing student before calling off the search late on Wednesday.

The student's body was located shortly after the search resumed early Thursday, and was removed from the pit that formed in Lilydale Regional Park, St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Jim Smith told a news conference.

Smith said the child's family had been notified.

Authorities did not identify the student, but the St. Paul Pioneer Press and newspaper other media said family members had identified him as Zack Mohamed Fofana, 10.

The students were from an elementary school in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis.

The district said crisis counselors would be available for students, parents and staff at the school on Thursday.

The park is located along the Mississippi River and includes bluffs and trails and the site of a former brick company, which is a favored spot by people hunting for small fossils.

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Smith said the search was suspended Wednesday night because of extremely unstable conditions that left soil, sand and rocks falling into the recovery area. Conditions improved overnight, creating a more stable footing for searchers, he said.

Up to 40 police, firefighters, civilians and park employees had scrambled to rescue children from the pit digging with their hands and shovels on Wednesday afternoon. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries during the rescue.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune and Bernadette Baum)