At least 13 dead amid ‘waist-deep’ mudslides in California

A month after wildfires ravaged Southern California, another natural disaster hit that part of the state Tuesday — torrential rains and mudslides that killed at least 13.

The deadly deluge that swept across Santa Barbara County ripped homes from foundations and hurled rocks down steep hillsides left barren by last month’s horrific fires.

It took only minutes for the pounding rain to trigger the massive mudslide that claimed 13 lives — with the possibility of more victims yet to be found.

First responders scrambled to pull people from underneath the piles of soggy earth and downed trees, even as more muddy boulders rolled down surrounding slopes into residential neighborhoods.

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Some 50 people were plucked to safety from air rescue crews, officials said.

Dozens more were saved by first responders on the ground. Roughly 25 people suffered injuries, officials said.

Storms brought rain to California on Monday and increased the risk of mudslides in fire-ravaged communities.

Storms brought rain to California on Monday and increased the risk of mudslides in fire-ravaged communities.

(Eric Risberg/AP)

Many of the victims found among the muddy rubble were not immediately identified, according to authorities.

Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 northwest of Los Angeles — home to celebs like Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres — took a huge hit, said Santa Barbara County spokesman David Villalobos.

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Many of the 13 victims were found in that neighborhood. The deadly lashing of rain hit around 2:30 a.m., causing waist-high mudflows, officials said.

Santa Barbara Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said his crews pulled dozens of trapped people to safety after freeing them from mud and debris.

Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to get to a 14-year-old girl after hearing her faint cries from inside her home. She was stuck in it for hours after it was swept from its foundation.

Deadly mudslides sweep through Southern California

Other survivors were yanked from vehicles trapped in the dangerous floods.

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Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason warned of downed trees and power lines that severely limited responders’ access. The search for survivors was still underway Tuesday night, with many places inaccessible.

Officials closed parts of coastal U.S. Route 101 and several other roads because of the treacherous conditions.

Floating debris also broke a gas line, which resulted in a series of fires. Crews struggled to figure out the source because of the blocked roadways.

Meanwhile, record-breaking rains began drenching northern cities like San Francisco and Sacramento on Monday, just after families in the area were given the go-ahead to return home after the state’s largest wildfire in history, ABC News reported.

The blaze left 44 people dead and nearly 9,000 homes and other buildings destroyed. Charred ground from the fires is unable to absorb water, creating ideal conditions for flash floods and mudslides.


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