Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Culture | By Stewart Greene

At least 15 dead after California mudslides; search, rescue goes on

At least 15 dead after California mudslides; search, rescue goes on

Those killed ranged in age from 3 to 89, and all lived in Montecito in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles, authorities said. The death toll rose on Wednesday afternoon after two more bodies were found.

More than 50 people have been rescued already but many places are still inaccessible.

With roads blocked, rescue crews used helicopters to pluck people from their rooftops.

U.S. Highway 101, a crucial link between Ventura and Santa Barbara, was so overwhelmed by mud and debris that authorities announced it will remain closed until at least Monday.

"That's a fear. We are still very hopeful that we will locate people alive", he added.

This is why mudslides are so unsafe - they build speed so quickly and get bigger as they pick up extra debris so can't always be predicted by rainfall. "We think somewhere in the debris field". She was pulled from a collapsed Montecito home where she had been trapped for hours.

This mudslide originated from the Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara, which have been scorched by recent fires in the area.

DeGeneres is also a resident of the town, which was hit by the worst fires in California history at the end of previous year. Even Oprah was caught up in the mess, posting videos on her Instagram account.

He yells: "Oh my god, Mom!" before sprinting back into the house. That's because burned soil can act as a water repellent like pavement, so rainfall that would normally be absorbed in the ground runs off rapidly after a wildfire.

Forecasters issued flash flood warnings and predicted that the cold front with powerful winds could bring higher rain totals to downtown Los Angeles than recorded over the past 10 months.

The terrain has been destroyed and debris including fallen trees, boulders and waist-deep mud have made rescue efforts hard. Emergency services attributed this to "evacuation fatigue" after last month's fires.

The girl, coated head to foot in mud, was led by firefighters from a pile of wood and debris that was once a house, a photo from Santa Barbara County Fire Department showed.

At least 17 people are now known to have been killed in the mudslides in affluent Santa Barbara County following heavy downpours this week.

Sheriff Bill Brown said the primary focus of first responders was "to evacuate those who are trapped and need help getting out".

US Coast Guard officials rescue a family including a young child from their home that was severely damaged after a mudslide.

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