At least eight people are missing on January 11 after mudslides and boulders destroyed homes in Santa Barbara County, reports CNN. "The large amounts of mud and debris are making access and progress challenging", Friday's Santa Barbara County Fire incident update said. "While we hope it will not, we expect this number to increase as we continue to look for people who are missing and unaccounted for", Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown said on Tuesday.
Hundreds of emergency workers, many of whom had weeks earlier battled the massive Thomas fire that made the dirt so unstable, searched on Tuesday for survivors with the help of Coast Guard helicopters and heavy equipment to clear blocked roads. Firefighters struggled through the mud to pull a muck-covered 14-year-old girl out of the ruinds of a home in Montecito, norrthwest of Los Angeles.
At least 13 people were confirmed dead on Tuesday, at least 25 were injured and at least 50 had to be rescued by helicopters.
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"This is going to be a long and hard journey for all of us", said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, according to NBC News.
The post came one day after Winfrey shared a series of videos of the current state of Santa Barbara County.
Winfrey, fresh from sparking rumours of a USA presidential run, said on Instagram she was "praying for our community again in Santa Barbara".
Mandatory evacuations had been ordered in parts of Santa Barbara County, but it is believed only 10% to 15% of residents actually heeded the warning.
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The torrent of mud and deadly runoff of debris caused by pounding overnight rains trapped victims in their homes, just one month following the fast-spreading wildfire that raged in the same Southern California region.
Burned vegetation and charred soil create a repellent layer which prevents this rainwater from being absorbed.
A group of up to 300 people are also reportedly trapped in Romero Canyon, east of Santa Barbara.
"We started looking around and that is when we saw parts of roofs, and there was a body against our next door neighbour's auto", Mr Funk, a financial adviser, said by phone.
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