California mudslide death toll hits 17 amid fears it could double

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The coroner released the names and ages of the 17 confirmed victims.

The cause of death for all 17 will be listed as multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides, the Santa Barbara Sheriff's office said in a statement.

"We don't know how many additional people are still trapped, ' Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said on the 'CBS This Morning" program.

Ellen DeGeneres, who lives in Montecito, spoke emotionally on her show Wednesday about what has been happening in her community.

The number of confirmed deaths from flooding and mudslides in California stands at 17, with USA authorities stepping up their search for at least 20 missing persons. After a better look at the damage, officials lowered the number of destroyed homes from 100 to 59 and raised the number of damaged ones from 300 to 446.

A luxury sports auto is covered in mud and debris caused by a massive mudflow in Montecito, California, January 10, 2018. Rescue crews worked up to 12 hours a day and risked stepping on nails or shattered glass, or being exposed to raw sewage, or dealing with leaking gas, Page said. "The mud is acting like a candy shell on ice cream". He was directing urban search-and-rescue teams and working on a plan to find and preserve human remains - while keeping his crew safe.

The mud could be toxic from busted sewage lines.

Troy, a legal worker in her 50s, was born in New York's Long Island but moved as a child with her parents to Los Angeles.

Santa Barbara County authorities sent a shudder through the community early Thursday when they reported that the number of people unaccounted for had surged from 16 to 48.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Yaneris Muniz (MYOO'-nihz) confirms two more deaths, in addition to those reported in the hours after a storm dumped a huge amount of rain on the community in a brief period of time early Tuesday.

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"First we got burned out at our ranch that caught on fire and now we're flooding, so the last month has been pretty bad", said Charles Stoops, as he stood in front of his house, which was surrounded in mud three feet (nearly a meter) deep. "It's not like anybody came around and told them to leave". They were dropped off at the local shopping center.

Search dogs, helicopters and thermal imaging equipment are being used to find victims or survivors, with rescuers battling through waist-deep mud in some areas.

On Tuesday, heavy rains triggered flooding and mudslides that have killed at least 15 people, injured 25 others and swept away dozens of homes in Southern California.

Crews have worked day and night facing hard conditions, digging through a thick sludge 15 feet deep or more, as well as downed trees, boulders, loose ground and even buried swimming pools, which can pose a threat to rescuers who can't see what's under their feet.

Flash floods there on Tuesday swept vast amounts of mud, water and debris down from foothills that were stripped of brush by the recent Thomas wildfire. It's expected to be several days before restoration.

Roads have been washed out or covered by rivers of mud that also devastated residential neighborhoods.

In December, California Governor Jerry Brown said the state was "facing a new reality" as climate change meant wildfires could erupt "every year or every few years".

"The possibility is a scary thought", Brown added.

"Helicopters rescued some people who climbed onto the roofs of their homes to escape the torrent of water, and mud".

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