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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 16:27 GMT
California mudslide toll rises
Car engulfed in mud at the scene of one of the landslides
It was the worst downpour to hit the region for 20 years
Rescuers searching the scene of mudslides that engulfed two holiday camps in California on Christmas Day have found five more bodies.

At least 14 people are now known to have died when heavy rain unleashed a torrent of mud, rocks and tree trunks on the camps east of Los Angeles.

Hopes are fading that two children still missing will be found alive.

Authorities are warning local people to be prepared for more heavy rains and possible flooding.

"It's been several days and our hopes are not high of finding people alive," said Chip Patterson, spokesman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

"We may never find everyone."

More than 20 people were celebrating Christmas when mudslides and flash floods struck a church camp in Waterman Canyon, killing at least 12 people.

Fourteen others were rescued.

Two other people died as a landslide hit a camp site about eight kilometres (five miles) away.

Evacuation plans

It was the most severe seasonal downpour in the region for 20 years.

The authorities are warning of more heavy rain over the next few days and fire stations have been handing out sandbags in preparation.

The region was previously hit by devastating wildfires in October and November that scorched thousands of acres across southern California.

Authorities have said they are considering evacuating areas stripped bare by the wildfires because of the risk of more mudslides.


SEE ALSO:
'Survival unlikely' in US mudslip
28 Dec 03  |  Americas
California fire crews gain ground
01 Nov 03  |  Americas


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