Search for mom, 2 kids in Utah mudslide now recovery
LOGAN, Utah – The search for a mother and her two children believed to have been inside a home destroyed by a mudslide has turned into a recovery operation, rescuers said early Sunday.
Logan Police Capt. Jeff Curtis told The Associated Press that there was only a “slight” chance that the three would still be alive after mud swept down a hillside Saturday and struck the home in Logan.
“We’ve changed the mode from a rescue mode to a recovery mode,” he said.
The Salt Lake Tribune said rescuers called off the search late Saturday because the hillside behind the home was too unstable. The police captain told the AP on Sunday that rescuers had only been able to search through one-third of the rental home because the hillside and the mud surrounding the home made it “unsafe for us.”
“We searched until we were able to get through the rubble left by the house,” he said Sunday. “But we have got to a point that we’ve got to search into the mud and rocks.”
The search began Saturday afternoon after the family living at the rented home couldn’t be located, said Curtis. The landlord alerted authorities that the house had collapsed, the Tribune said.
“We don’t know where they are,” Curtis said late Saturday. “Obviously we hope they’re not in there. But we’re exhausting every avenue” to find them.
Search dogs had been brought to the scene to assist. Two tractors were initially used in the digging effort but were later used to reinforce an embankment at the rear of the home, guarding against a cave-in as rescue crews dug through the mud and debris.
“Because of the instability of the mountain, we’re supporting it with heavy equipment and digging by hand,” Curtis said.
Neighbors said Jackeline Alanis, her 13-year-old son, Victor Alanis, and 12-year-old daughter, Abbey Alanis, were seen entering the home minutes before it collapsed, according to the Tribune. Two other family members who also live there were away at the time, the newspaper reported Sunday.
“Everybody needs to pray for them,” Logan Mayor Randy Watts told The Herald Journal of Logan.
The Tribune reported that the mudslide was caused by collapse of an irrigation canal about 150 feet up above the home.
Fifteen homes were evacuated after the slide, Fire Department spokeswoman Liz Hunsaker said. Firefighters had to carry children from some homes.
There were no other reports of anyone missing or injured, but Curtis said eight homes were flooded and 11 others had damage to their yards from mud and debris.
Sandra Hinojosa of Brownsville, Texas, said she’s glad her daughter, Maria Olvera, has a top-floor apartment in the area. A ground apartment unit was flooded, she said.
“It’s a scary, unforeseen situation,” said Hinojosa, who was visiting her daughter. “You feel that panic.”
The same area has been hit with landslides and flooding in the past. In 2005, the canal was shut down indefinitely due to hill slides and unstable conditions.
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