Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Arizona flash flood kills eight people, two remain missing

Arizona flash flood kills eight people, two remain missing

A flash flood swept through central Arizona on Saturday, killing at least nine people who had gathered at a swimming hole for a birthday celebration.

Two people are still missing but that number may increase, deputies said on Sunday as the extent of the damage became more clear.

Search and rescue crews, including 40 people on foot and others in a helicopter, recovered the bodies of five children and four adults, some as far as 2 miles down the river.

Officials were able to pull four people from the water on Saturday, but authorities are still looking for a 26-year-old male after suspending search and rescue efforts late Sunday night due to treacherous conditions, Hornung said. But local officials said they did not expect to find any more survivors. Storms are expected into the middle of the week.

The flash-flooding hit Saturday afternoon at Cold Springs canyon, about 100 northeast of Phoenix, and some people were washed several miles downstream.

Disa Alexander's footage showed a man in a tree holding his baby as water rushed around him. "We've just been lucky something like this hasn't been this tragic".

"It probably got up to about 4 feet, I would say, and where we were walking, you could see all the broken tree branches and mud everywhere", Alexander said. "It looked like a really big mudslide". The severe thunderstorm was located in a remote area that had been burned by a recent wildfire, Sattelmaier said. But he also said that despite previous flash floods in the region, it remained a popular destination. A flash food warning was issued but without a radio, the group would not have known.

"If it's an intense burn, it creates a glaze on the surface that just repels water", said Darren McCollum, a meteorologist.

The Gila County Sheriff's Office began a search and rescue operation around 3:30 p.m. after much of the heavy rainfall had already hit the area. "We had some concerns".

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