January 24, 2018

Death Toll Climbs to 15 in Southern California Mudslides

13 January 2018, 07:32 | Winifred Adams

A fire lights up the sky in Montecito California early Tuesday. @santa_barbara_mama Instagram

Image Montecito

"This is a constantly changing list", Brown said during a news conference.

At least 25 people were injured, 50 or more had to be rescued by helicopters, and an undetermined number of others were missing, authorities said.

On Friday, the estimated number of missing people was down to five, after an estimate of 43 on Thursday.

Hundreds of firefighters and others sifted through mud and debris in Montecito, a town 145 kilometers (90 miles) northwest of Los Angeles, after powerful rainstorms triggered a mudslide on Tuesday. The tally of the missing dropped to eight from 17 on Thursday morning, as people were rescued or accounted for.

Actor Jeff Bridges also tweeted that he and his family were affected.

First responders in the area were overwhelmed following intense rains that left numerous people trapped inside homes and vehicles and over a dozen dead. "We are heartbroken over the loss of lives in our community".

Oprah Winfrey posted a video of the devastation caused to her neighbourhood in Montecito on Instagram on Tuesday (09Jan18), revealing that although her property was safe, much of her backyard had been flooded with mud, while some of her neighbours had to be rescued via helicopter.

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She stood in mud as she said she was "devastated" by the damage to her neighbour's house.

"We had thought about leaving, but we had just had the fires", he said, referring to the recent wildfires that stripped the area of needed vegetation.

Crews work to remove downed power lines in Montecito, California, on Wednesday. (Kenneth Song/Santa Barbara News-Press via Reuters) A search dog looks for victims in damaged homes after a mudslide in Montecito, Calif. on Jan 9.

The worst of the rainfall occurred in a 15-minute span starting at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. That started yesterday immediately after that debris flow. "I've heard a lot of good reports of multiple rescues by our staff", Champion said.

"That's when I immediately bolted for the wall, to try and hide behind a wall - not knowing how big this wall of mud is going to be".

Barret added it would "take a lot of time" to get over the natural disasters that have struck the area over the past two months. His house was spared and was right on the edge of the river that developed, he said.

"It all started Sunday night", Fire Chief Leonard Champion said, when Santa Barbara County Emergency Management Office leaders asked for help from local municipalities to prepare for the storm.

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