California mudslide: 17 dead, 24 missing and 300 trapped as ‘mud river’ engulfs Montecito | World | News


At least 24 people are believed to be missing and 300 trapped as emergency responders are working to pull locals from a waist-deep river of mud and debris after it rained down on homes following a torrent of rain earlier this week.

Earlier California wildfires had stripped the neighbourhood’s hills of vegetation which had caused mud ladened with debris to flood the community.

Pictures show electricity poles and wires brought down by huge boulders after they tumbled down the Californian hills.

Another image reveals the inside of a home after it was ripped through by the devastating mudslide and demolishing its outer walls.

Photos from around the Montecito community also show locals wading through their mud-flooded homes with the dirt in some instance reaching above head-height in the Santa Barbara County.

Roy Rohter is among the dead named so far as the search for 24 people still reported missing continues.

Mr Rohter was swept away from his home along with his wife Theresa in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Theresa was rescued from the mud and was taken to hospital.

His death was confirmed by St Augustine Academy in Ventura which he founded in 1994.

Another 13 victims who have been confirmed dead – but their identities have not been confirmed.

David Cantin, 49, who was swept away from his home along with his teenage son, is among those missing.

His daughter Lauren was filmed being rescued by firefighters from their home after they heard her screaming from the wreckage.

Among those missing are several elderly and a 12-year-old girl is also understood to be unaccounted for.

Oprah Winfrey’s $50million home survived the damage and she was not home for the worst.

The former talkshow host visited the site on Tuesday to share her shock and grief.

Tennis star Jimmy Connors revealed to fans that he had to be airlifted out of his home to safety.

As authorities surveyed the damage, 300 people remained trapped in the hillside community of Romero Canyon.

About 7,000 residents in Santa Barbara County were ordered to evacuate before the downpour on Tuesday, and another 23,000 were urged to do so voluntarily – but many remained.

Emergency services cite ‘evacuation fatigue’, a complacency or refusal to heed their warnings after last month’s catastrophic fires

Sheriff Brown confirmed on Wednesday that there were some who chose to stay behind despite warnings.

He said: “There were some people who did refuse to evacuate and chose to stay in their homes, but there were many that did evacuate and they were safe because of that.”

Ms Winfrey shared a video of her home following the floods to let her followers know she was safe and her $50million home had survived the storm.

She said: “Thanks everyone for your prayers and concern. My property is fine. Some mud, and minor damage that pales in comparison to what my neighbours are going through.”

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