Twenty thousand flee homes, 13 dead as mudslides engulf California

Twenty-thousand people have been forced to flee their homes, as mudslides engulf towns in California, triggered by heavy rains that came after last month's forest fires.

Thirteen bodies have been found so far.

Firefighters pulled people from the mud, many of whom had been trapped there for hours. Survivors were taken to higher ground.

Forest fires burned through more than a million acres in December, creating barren hillsides that turned to mud when the rains began.

Houses in Montecito, an exclusive community in Santa Barbara, were buried under mud and debris.

"This is the worst I've ever seen it," Montecito resident Scott Groff told CBS. "We thought that the fire was terrible and this is absolute devastation." 

Vehicles on major roads became stuck in mud up to one metre deep.

The first major storm of 2018 wreaked havoc throughout Southern California. In Burbank, Los Angeles County, cars were swept down a canyon by a mudslide. 


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