Two more mudslide victims found in California, death toll now 17

The 2017 Thomas fire that burned in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties left behind vast swaths of charred landscape like this area in Upper Rincon Canyon

"The correct number of missing is down to eight", Mike Eliason, a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, told Xinhua in a phone interview.

On Tuesday, heavy rains triggered flooding and mudslides that have killed at least 15 people, injured 25 others and swept away dozens of homes in Southern California.

Eight people are still missing in deadly mudslides that have claimed 17 lives so far in Santa Barbara County in the western US state of California, local authorities said Thursday.

Officials did not provide any further information on the girl's condition or if any of her family members had been trapped.

Search dogs, helicopters and thermal imaging equipment are being used to find victims or survivors, with rescuers battling through waist-deep mud in some areas.

Access to some areas has been hard for emergency crews because of downed trees and power lines, according to County Fire. As of January 10, 13 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured.

Dozens of homes were destroyed, cars demolished and trees toppled after heavy downpours in communities along California's scenic coastline send mud, boulders and tons of debris rolling down hills.


The 63-year-old entertainment mogul took to Instagram on Wednesday, sharing a video that shows the severity of the first storm of the winter season, and what it did to the homes surrounding her Montecito property.

"The best way I can describe it is, it looked like a World War One battlefield", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference.

Brown believes that the death toll could continue to rise as mud and water continues to destroy these counties.

Several roads are closed due to mudslides and debris, including the major thoroughfare Highway 101.

What was previously designated a public safety exclusion zone - an area west of Sheffield Drive/East Valley Road/Ladera Lane, east of Olive Mill/Hot Springs Road, north of the ocean, and south of the U.S. Forest Service boundary - is now part of the mandatory evacuation order area.

Weeks after being set ablaze with wildfires, California was hit with a series of deadly mudslides that left devastation in their wake.

After a wildfire, burned vegetation and charred soil create a water repellent layer which blocks water absorption and leads to an increased risk of mudslides and floods.

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