Southern California Storm: Up To 43 People Missing After Montecito Mudflows

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Search and rescue teams are looking for dozens of people who are still missing after this week's torrential rains caused mudslides in Southern California, authorities said.

At least 17 people have died as a result of the mudslides, which has destroyed houses and caused substantial damage in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The number of dead could climb as crews search through mud and debris that covered about 30 square miles.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Thursday as many as 43 people might still be missing, adding the toll could fluctuate significantly. Earlier, officials said just eight people were unaccounted for.

"This is a constantly changing list," Brown said during a news conference.

The dead were identified -- all from Montecito, ranging in age from 3 to 89 years old.

"There are four juveniles on the list," Brown said. "There are mothers, fathers, grandfathers, siblings and the list goes on and on."

A spokesperson for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital said 27 patients were treated and released or admitted to the hospital from with storm-related injuries. As of Thursday, 14 patients remained in the hospital, two critical and two in serious condition.

About 100 homes have been destroyed and 300 others damaged in Montecito, a community known for its multimillion-dollar properties.

Almost the entire community, about 10,000 people, are under a mandatory evacuation order that could last for up to two weeks, Santa Barbara County's fire chief said.

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