Medical

Five People Missing After California Mudslides; Thomas Fire Finally Out

Five People Missing After California Mudslides; Thomas Fire Finally Out

The death toll from devastating mudslides in affluent communities along a stretch of Southern California coastline rose to 17 on Wednesday after two more bodies were recovered, the local sheriff said, and the number of people missing is eight.

Rescue efforts are fully mobilized, he said, adding that there are now 683 rescue workers, up from 450 on Wednesday, involved in the disaster relief efforts.

At least 17 people have died, another 8 are missing and more than two dozen are injured in the Golden State from weather-related incidents, according to Santa Barbara County officials. "It's crusty on top but soft underneath, so we're having to be very careful".

The amount of debris left behind is so massive that a 30-mile stretch of U.S. 101 between Montecito and Santa Barbara is expected to remain closed for at least 48 hours, said Capt. Cindy Pontes with the California Highway Patrol.

The number of missing fluctuated throughout the day as new reports that people couldn't be accounted for came in and as other people were found, Brown said.

And because of the fire, communities below the scarred terrain could remain at risk of mudslides for years, said Randall Jibson, a research geologist with the US Geological Survey.

Triggered by heavy rains, the massive slides struck before dawn on Tuesday.

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In one of the worst-hit areas of Montecito, mud blew through doors and windows to fill the interiors of houses with muck and debris.

The mud was unleashed in the dead of night by flash flooding in the steep Santa Ynez Mountains, where hillsides were stripped of vegetation last month by the biggest wildfire on record in California, a 440-square-mile blaze that destroyed 1,063 homes and other structures.

Local fire chief Anthony Buzzerio said around three quarters of the affected area has now been searched - with some rescuers falling down manholes and into swimming pools that have been covered up.

Hundreds of people have also lost their homes following the mudslides, which completely destroyed 100 houses and severely damaged up to 300 more. Downed power lines wrapped around trees at one property, while elsewhere the lines dropped nearly to the ground.

It was six at the beginning of an afternoon news conference, but someone called in to say one of the men on the list was at a hospital. Elsewhere, cars were perched on mounds of earth and garage doors had caved in. Many celebrities who live there have seen flooding in their homes and neighborhoods, including Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.

Resident Rob Lowe offered condolences on social media.

"The girl's OK. It's unbelievable", he said.


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