Hard search goes on in California mudslides


A Cal Fire search and rescue crew walks through mud near homes damaged by storms in Montecito, Calif., on Friday.

Authorities announced Thursday that 73-year-old Peter Fleurat was among those who died in Montecito.

Since the mudslide caused the partial closure of one of California's most celebrated coastal roads, Highway 101, Nash, like many county residents, has been taking the train from the beach town into Santa Barbara proper for work every day.

The search for additional possible victims is continuing.

The husbands of both women and the 2-year-old son of Fabiola Benitez, were hospitalized with injuries, Ramos said.

At a destroyed residence where mud-caked 14-year-old Lauren Cantin was rescued Tuesday hours after the early morning disaster hit, fire crews moved pieces of the roof, wood and concrete by hand as they looked for any sign of her missing 17-year-old brother. Her house was completely washed away in the mudslide.

The walls of fast-moving mud and debris that tore through hillside communities before dawn on Tuesday took the lives of three children, at least one married couple and two people in their 80s, officials said in releasing the names of the dead.

The mudslides notably occurred weeks after the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire within California, struck the state.

Rebecca Riskin, the founder of Riskin Partners, was killed when mudslides ripped through Montecito. He searched through debris at her now-destroyed home until receiving confirmation of her death. Rescuers were busy probing thick muck, swollen creeks and tangled trees with poles in search of the seven missing people while dogs sniffed for bodies.

Hard search goes on in California mudslides

They revised the figure down from 48 which they said they initially reported due to a clerical error.

The number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.

NASA has captured before-and-after imagery of this week's deadly mudflow disaster in Montecito, California.

"We were able to find people", Anderson said, but added that the number could continue to fluctuate greatly.

Santa Barbara County emergency manager Jeff Gater told the Los Angeles Times that he waited because, "If you cry wolf, people stop listening".

The department hesitated to use a cell phone emergency alert system, and they waited until 3:50 a.m. Tuesday to push out the alert, roughly 10 minutes ahead of the worst flooding.

They said they feared more bodies may be found but still held out hope for "miracle" survivors. For days, the county had issued repeated warnings via social media, news media and emails about the potential for mudslides.

Most of the 9,000 residents of Montecito, located north of Los Angeles, remain under orders to stay out of town as gas and electricity were expected to be shut off Saturday for repairs.

Searchers had checked most of the debris zone for victims and some were doubling back to leave no stone unturned Thursday when a crew ended up in the backyard of Bill Asher, who lost his palatial home and a similar one he was restoring next door.

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