California mudslides: At least 13 killed, thousands evacuated

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The county initially ordered 7,000 residents to evacuate and urged another 23,000 to do so voluntarily, but only 10 to 15 percent complied with mandatory orders, said Amber Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Drivers should avoid non-essential travel and use I-5 as an alternate route, Caltrans said.

A winter weather advisory is in place for mountain areas, where officials warned motorists to prepare for hard travel conditions, including gusty winds, low visibility and snow-covered roads.

California saw some of the worst fires in state history late past year; the Thomas fire burned over 1,000 structures. The fire destroyed more than 1,000 structures.

Santa Barbara County spokesman Amber Anderson says Wednesday that officials have no idea where the missing people may be but believe they are within the debris field. Several homes were swept away before dawn Tuesday when mud and debris roared into neighborhoods in Montecito from hillsides stripped of vegetation during the Thomas wildfire.

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Authorities in Northern California say a man died after his auto was apparently struck by falling rocks in a landslide Tuesday evening in Napa County.

The man, who has not been identified, was found dead inside the auto. Santa Barbara County firefighters had dogs picking through the muddy remains of homes, looking for any others who may have been trapped. An unknown number of people are unaccounted for, and the search for survivors continues.

Death toll is likely to rise, reported CNN, citing Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, as saying. The fatality figure could increase as at least two dozen people were considered still missing as search-and-rescue efforts continued.

A fire truck drives through the wildfire damaged Coffey Park neighborhood as rain water pools where a home once stood, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Santa Rosa, Calif.

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Devastating mudslides have killed at least 13 people in California, with local officials likening the scene to a "World War One battlefield".

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