World Bulletin / News Desk
Casualties continued to mount Tuesday following devastating rains and mudflows in Southern California.
The powerful storm laid waste to neighborhoods in the wealthy coastal enclave of Montecito, which lies just east of Santa Barbara and north of Los Angeles.
Rescuers used heavy vehicles, including military equipment, to brave badly damaged, mud-clogged streets.
Santa Barbara County Sherriff’s office spokesperson Kelly Hoover confirmed 13 people died as a result of the deadly weather conditions. Additional details on the deaths were not immediately available
Fifty people were rescued by helicopter and dozens more were saved in ground operations, Santa Barbara County said in a press release.
Many of the locations hardest hit by the torrents had previously been devastated by the worst wildfire in California history, increasing worries about the possibility of mudslides in the freshly burned areas.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s office said the storm “caused massive debris flow” from the Thomas Fire’s burn area.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing, it said on Twitter.
Several homes have been destroyed by mudflows, Mike Eliason, a spokesperson with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said on the social media site.
Seven thousand people have been ordered to evacuate while over 23,000 others have been asked to leave voluntarily.
The 101 freeway, which runs north-south along the West coast, is expected to remain closed for up to 48 hours. The major transit route is covered in mud and debris in the Montecito area.
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