California mudslides: Crews dig through debris

  • California mudslides: Crews dig through debris

California mudslides: Crews dig through debris

Seventeen people were confirmed dead and 16 were missing.

Heavy rain and a "deep rumbling" sound preceded the massive amounts of mud that blanketed miles and killed at least 17 people.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Yaneris Muniz said Wednesday morning that 300 people were trapped in the Romero Canyon area of Montecito because debris was blocking their way out of the neighborhood.

The number of missing persons has fluctuated since the disaster hit early Tuesday morning and had been as low as 16 on Wednesday evening.

"I work in LA, but I consider Montecito my home". Two black Labrador retrievers swam around a debris-filled swimming pool, trying to pick up any scent. "It wasn't a trickle", said William Johnston, who lives in a retirement community down the street.

But he confessed: "The likelihood is increasing that we'll be finding bodies, not survivors". "You never really know".

The torrential rainstorm that set off the disaster cleared out and was no longer a hindrance as searchers made their way across a landscape strewn with boulders and covered in cement-like mud shoulder-high in some places.

Following months of record-breaking wildfires, California is now suffering the aftermath of deadly mudslides caused by heavy rain and flash flooding. A family assistance center was set up at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave., in Santa Barbara to help victims find friends or family who may have been affected by the storm. Officials say a clerical mistake led to the figure of eight being released. The event that has forced thousands to evacuate their homes.

Two days after the Golden Globes and a speech that had everyone talking, Oprah Winfrey's thoughts are not on her presidential prospects but with her neighbors in Santa Barbara, California, where heavy rains have caused risky mudslides and led to fatalities. The area will also be without "potable water, electricity, and sanitation for an unknown/extended period of time due to the storm". Next to some of the devastated areas sat large estates untouched by the torrent, their lawns still green and the landscaping lush.

At least 28 others had been reported injured, and 17 more are missing, officials said without publicly identifying any of those killed in the mudslides.

The death toll climbed as AP reported that the "vast majority" of those under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders stayed in their in Montecito homes, 100 of which were subsequently destroyed. Twelve remained hospitalised, four in a critical condition.