At least 8 people dead after California mudslides

Oprah, Rob Lowe among celebrities affected by deadly mudslides in California

Mudslide devastation massive in S. California

"We have a time frame that we want to get to people as quick as possible", said Battalion Chief David Neels, Santa Barbara County Fire. 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.

The correction came after an early Thursday update that raised the missing to 48 in the mudslides triggered by heavy rains just weeks after major wildfires scorched the area. "We are still making our way into certain areas", said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

Officials did not provide any further information on the girl's condition or if any of her family members had been trapped.

The death toll from a mudslide in California rose to at least 17 people on Wednesday as rescue crews continued to search for another 17 missing people.

Both local authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard were involved in response operations throughout the day Wednesday, including helicopter rescues and attempting to retrieve residents trapped inside their homes.

Rescue workers are using helicopters in a search hampered by blocked roads, and downed trees and power lines.

Television personality Oprah Winfrey, who owns a home in Montecito, awoke Tuesday to a gas-fueled fire in her neighborhood, mud piled deep in her back yard and a neighbor's house destroyed.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed or severely damaged, including Oprah Winfrey's 65-acre Montecito estate.

On Tuesday, Brown told reporters that the scenes "looked like a World War I battlefield". The area received several inches of heavy rain that could not be absorbed by recently burned areas, which has produced a lethal landscape. DeGeneres took to Twitter to ask for support for her community.

Rescue services assisted at least 50 people in the Montecito area.

Burned vegetation and charred soil create a repellent layer which prevents this rainwater from being absorbed.

"We started looking around and that is when we saw parts of roofs, and there was a body against our next door neighbour's vehicle", Mr Funk, a financial adviser, said by phone.

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