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Hope, dismay, anger mark wait for word of missing

TOLEDO - Relatives and friends of those believed to be missing on Mount St. Helens came to the tiny airport here to find out if anybody could tell them anything.

They were here throughout the day, coming and going, and coming again. Most have a blank, tired look, but there is emotion within them and it doesn't take much for it to come out.

A combined national guard, U.S. Army, and air rescue operation by units from Fort Lewis and Portland is being conducted from the airport, about three miles northeast of Toledo.

It is about 30 miles from the volcano that erupted last Sunday.

"I've cleaned everything in the house that needs to be cleaned and then cleaned things that are clean just to keep busy," said Tracy Graves.

Last Saturday at 10 a.m., her sister, Christy, 20, and Christy's husband, John Killian, 29, both of Vader about 10 miles west of Toledo, went camping on Mount St. Helens. They haven't been heard of since.

"How's your mom?" Tracy was asked by Darlene Bates, who sat with her beneath the wing of an airplane at the airstrip.

"She's up and down, depending on whether the stories she hears are good or bad," Tracy said.

Killian is Darlene's cousin and both women, who live in Vader, stared out at the long row of some 22-25 helicopters idle on the grassy area between the two asphalt airstrips. Crews awaited weather clearance to commence the recovery of bodies and search for missing.

"Ralph (Killian, whose son is missing) is sleeping on the floor near the phone, and his bed's not that far away," Darlene said of her uncle.

He and other relatives of missing, including Tracy's father, Bob Graves, who flew in from his Nevada home, went up the mountain for two days on ground searches of their own.

The women expressed anger because they don't feel authorities have conducted enough ground searches. . Relatives returning from the mountain reported not seeing anyone on a search, the women say.

Authorities have told the media ground searches have been conducted and that at least two bodies have been recovered by ground teams. "They were recovered Wednesday and Thursday .

"I've still got hope until they tell me they've found them dead," said Jo Hedgers, of nearby Winlock speaking of her aunt and uncle, Merlin and Kathleen Pluard.

Pluard, 37 years a forester, took his wife up the mountain last Sunday to look at the bulge formed by its steaming interior. A foreman for a timber crew that was working in the red zone, considered the . most hazardous because it encompasses the mountain itself, had taken pictures of the bulge and wanted to show it to her for the first' time, Mrs. Hedgers said. They have 12 grown children .

"I think these guys are doing a wonderful job, every time they go up they risk their lives," she said of the crews.

"He (Pluard) knew the area of the mountain so well and if he survived the blast at all it's because he knows it so well," said Mrs. Hedger.

The Pluards went up the mountain at 7:3O a.m. Sunday. They 'could have been up to it by the time of the blast or in a valley where mud slides swept through a short time later, Mrs. Hedgers estimated. Pluard's pickup truck hasn't been seen, but Mrs. Hedgers maintained hope.

Rain Thursday morning prevented flights over the mountain, but two ground searches were launched from the Toledo airport.

One body was recovered by ground crews and at least a half dozen by air after flights began, but a specific count remains con-fused because little information was released.

Rain Thursday morning prevented flights over the mountain, but two ground searches were launched from the Toledo airport.

One body was recovered by ground crews and at least a half dozen by air af-ter flights began, but a specific count remains confused because little information was released.

Two identification experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C., helped at the makeshift morgue at the airport and positive identifications are made but that information was relayed to Vancouver for release.

A source says among those found were a man, two boys, and a pregnant woman. The man and two boys were together the source said.