- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Times has won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of a deadly landslide in Washington state that destroyed a small community north of Seattle, leaving 43 people dead.

The Times won the award Monday for Breaking News Reporting. The judges cited the “digital account” of the landslide “and the impressive follow-up reporting that explored whether the calamity could have been avoided.”

It is the 10th Pulitzer Prize the newspaper has won, and the third in the last five years. The Times won the Pulitzer for Breaking News Reporting in 2010 and for Investigative Reporting in 2012.

Editor Kathy Best told staffers the newspaper’s landslide coverage honored the victims of the tragedy by providing timely, detailed reports and holding officials accountable after a rain-sodden hillside collapsed on March 22, 2014, sending tons of dirt, debris and rocks onto dozens of homes in Oso, Washington.

“We did what any good newsroom should do when a big story breaks,” Best told the newsroom, which erupted in cheers after the award was announced. “We gave people accurate information when rumors and inaccuracies were swirling all over the place.”

In the days after the landslide, the deadliest in U.S. history, rescue crews and desperate family and friends used chain saws and their bare hands to pick through the debris looking for possible survivors. The number of possible victims fluctuated wildly as officials tried to accurately determine the number of people who were in the area 55 miles north of Seattle when the slide hit on a Saturday morning.

In its reporting, the newspaper described how scientists had warned for decades of the potential for a large landslide involving the hill that gave way, raising questions about why officials would allow construction in the area.

“We asked hard questions in the moment. When public officials were saying, ‘Oh, this was unforeseen,’ we showed that it was not unforeseen,” Best said.

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