California mudslide victims surges to 48
The number of people missing since mudslides engulfed this wealthy coastal town surged to 48 on Thursday as hundreds of rescue workers slogged through kneedeep ooze and used long poles to probe for bodies. The number of confirmed dead stood at 17.
The huge increase in those unaccounted for came as authorities investigated missing-persons reports, said Santa Barbara County spokesperson Amber Anderson.
CALIFORNIA - Fluctuated
The number has fluctuated since the disaster struck in the early morning darkness on Tuesday and was as low as 16 on Wednesday evening. The new count raised fears that the disaster was far worse than authorities imagined.
Family members have been anxiously awaiting word on loved ones as the search goes on.