The Associated Press reports:
The death toll from the mudslides that struck Southern California climbed to 15 on Wednesday as rescue crews searched for anyone trapped, injured or dead in the onslaught that smashed homes and swept away cars.
The torrential rainstorm that set off the disaster cleared out and was no longer a hindrance as searchers made their way across a landscape strewn with boulders and covered in cement-like mud shoulder-high in some places.
“Right now our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.
Heavy rains early Tuesday caused rivers of mud and debris to run down from hillsides in Santa Barbara County, demolishing homes in the seaside community of Montecito just weeks after a massive wildfire scarred the region.
On Wednesday morning, 300 people were trapped in the Romero Canyon area of Montecito because debris was blocking their way out of the neighborhood, Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Yaneris Muniz said.
“We can’t get to them, and they can’t get to us. … Once we have daybreak, you will see helicopters start rescuing people there,” Muniz said. Thomas Tighe told CNN affiliate KCAL he was outside his Montecito home and heard “a deep rumbling, an ominous sound I knew was … boulders moving as the mud was rising.”