Mudslides in a Southern California community claimed the lives of at least 15 people on Tuesday after heavy rains sent mud and boulders down hillsides.
Aided by search dogs, crews from the Montecito Fire Protection District combed through the mud-soaked community, searching for survivors among the debris of flattened homes and mangled vehicles.
Evacuations were ordered in recently burned areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. But only an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of people in a mandatory evacuation area of Santa Barbara County heeded the warning, authorities said.
The worst of the rainfall occurred in a 15-minute span starting at 3:30 a.m. Montecito received more than 38 millimetres of rain in five minutes. The heavy rain sent mud and debris down hillsides barren of vegetation as a result of the devastating wildfires that ripped through the region last month.
Story continues below advertisement
WATCH: U.S. Coast Guard crews airlift stranded residents from homes hit by California mudslides
U.S. Coast Guard crews airlift stranded residents from homes hit by California mudslides
U.S. Coast Guard crews airlift stranded residents from homes hit by California mudslides – Jan 10, 2018
Rescue crews used helicopters to pluck at least 50 people from rooftops because trees and power lines blocked roads.
Video shows rescuers helping residents onto roofs before they were helped into rescue baskets and lifted into the helicopter. A family of five, including an infant, and two dogs were among those rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard chopper.
Photos show streets littered with mangled cars, broken power lines and snapped trees while some roads were blocked by massive boulders.