Twenty dead as search for California mudslide survivors grinds on

Debris and mud cover the street in front of local area shops after heavy rain brought flash flooding on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 in Montecito, California At least five people were killed and homes were swept from their foundations Tuesday as heavy rain sent mud and boulders sliding down hills stripped of vegetation by a gigantic wildfire that raged in Southern California last month. (Daniel Dreifuss)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Twenty dead as search for California mudslide survivors grinds on

LOS ANGELES: The search for survivors of the deadly mudslides in parts of California’s Santa Barbara County continued Sunday even as hopes dwindled to find anyone alive, officials said.
“We’re still in rescue mode and we still hope to find someone alive, although the chances of that are becoming slim,” said Justin Cooper, a spokesperson for the multi-agency response team.
The death toll rose to 20 on Sunday with four people still missing, Cooper said.
Another 900 emergency personnel arrived this weekend to join the relief effort conducted by more than 2,100 personnel from local, state and federal agencies, including the US Coast Guard, the US Navy and the American Red Cross.
The ramped-up rescue effort is in response to urgent requests for additional manpower made earlier in the week.
Heavy rains on Tuesday soaked the area near Montecito, north of Los Angeles, where vegetation had been stripped away by the largest wildfire in California’s history last month.
Sodden hillsides gave way, unleashing a torrent of mud, water, uprooted trees and boulders onto the valley below and killing people aged 3 to 89.
The destruction covered 30 square miles (78 square km), according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and forced the partial closure of one of California’s most celebrated coastal roads, the heavily used Highway 101.
Officials ordered residents in most of the southeastern corner of Montecito, which is east of Santa Barbara, to leave their homes for what was likely to be one or two weeks.
Many fled to nearby Carpinteria, where local resident Tessa Nash said they were communicating via a Facebook page called Carpinteria Swap, which is usually focused on buying and selling secondhand goods.
In the last few days, Nash said, it has been carrying information about community-led blood drives and transportation tips.
“We’re really joined together,” she said. “We’re affected here in Carpinteria in the sense that we’re taking these people in and a lot of people are out of work because they can’t travel. It’s a trickle down effect.”


Australian minister resigns over alleged website date on Hong Kong trip

Updated 31 sec ago
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Australian minister resigns over alleged website date on Hong Kong trip

  • Morrison’s minority government must return to the polls by May 2019, with opinion polls strongly favoring the opposition Labor to easily win the election
SYDNEY: An Australian government lawmaker on Monday resigned from Cabinet over a media report he used a website to meet a younger woman while on a Hong Kong work trip — overshadowing the government posting the best financial outlook in 10 years.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said he accepted the resignation of Andrew Broad after New Idea Magazine ran an interview with a woman who alleged she met the married Broad at a Hong Kong restaurant last month.
“Due to the nature of the allegations made, it is appropriate for Mr.Broad to resign as the assistant minister to the deputy prime minister,” McCormack said in an emailed statement. Broad will remain on the government backbench.
A spokeswoman for Broad did not immediately respond to requests for comment. New Idea published Broad saying: “This matter has been reported to the Australian Federal Police and I will not be making any further comment.”
New Idea ran an interview with a woman called Amy, who alleged Broad maintained a profile on a website, which it said was used by wealthy, older men to meet younger women, but it did not name the website.
It said Amy was 20 years younger than Broad.
Amy said she agreed to meet Broad at the Hong Kong Restaurant for dinner but left because she did not like his behavior, New Idea reported.
Broad’s resignation came just hours after the government forecast the strongest budget outlook in 10 years, arming Prime Minister Scott Morrison with a war chest large enough to allow for possible tax cuts ahead of an election in less than six months.
Morrison’s minority government must return to the polls by May 2019, with opinion polls strongly favoring the opposition Labor to easily win the election.