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California mudslides lead to at least 13 deaths

California mudslides lead to at least 13 deaths”

The death toll from the mudslide along a stretch of the southern California coastline rose to 17 after two more bodies were recovered, the local sheriff said, and the number of people missing also climbed to 17.

Military vehicles arrive to assist evacuation operations at an area damaged by mudslides in Montecito, Calif. on January 9.

Three more people were rescued from the path of debris yesterday.

After the Thomas Fire - the largest wildfire in California's recorded history - ravaged the landscape in December, the southern part of the state was hit by a massive storm.

Cars have been wrecked, there is thick muck and the mud is waist-deep in some areas - in a scene that Sheriff Bill Brown has likened to a First World War battlefield.

Most of the mudslide deaths took place in Montecito, a wealthy enclave of 9,000 people home to numerous celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Rob Lowe.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said helicopters are being used for rescues because roads are blocked by downed trees and power lines.

A California teen was trapped in a house swept away by raging mudslides for hours until rescue crews heard her screams through the roar of morning rain. "Swipe to see how deep the mud is in my backyard".

Burned-over zones are especially susceptible to destructive mudslides because scorched earth does not absorb water well and the land is easily eroded when there are no shrubs. Eight commercial properties were destroyed and 20 damaged. In the absence of healthy growing plants, the soil in the area is loose and easily moved by heavy rainfall, which leads to mudslides. "Debris is everywhere", Winfrey says in one of the videos.

Heavy rain run-off caused mudflow in the community of Montecito, where some homes were knocked from their foundations, the BBC quoted Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason as saying.

Rescue crews worked to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a key stretch of US 101 that was brought to a standstill along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.



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