Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished or damaged dozens of homes in southern California and killed at least 13 people, police said Tuesday.
Authorities said the bodies were discovered in mud and debris during rescue operations in Montecito, which is a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres, said Santa Barbara County spokesman David Villalobos.
"We are saddened to report that this incident so far has resulted in 13 confirmed fatalities, as result of the storm that came through our area last night," County Sheriff Bill Brown told a news conference, warning that he expected the death toll to increase.
The County Fire Department said on its Twitter feed it was using dogs to look for victims where multiple homes once stood in Montecito following heavy rain, with more than 20 people reported missing.
The department posted pictures of rivers of waist-high mud flowing through neighborhoods and roads rendered impassable by fallen trees.
Firefighters successfully rescued a mud-caked 14-year-old girl after she was trapped for hours inside a collapsed home in Montecito, it added.
"I thought I was dead for a minute there," the dazed girl could be heard saying on video posted by KNBC-TV before she was taken away on a stretcher.
Roads were clogged throughout the region with mudflows shutting down more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the 101 Freeway and knocking a number of homes from their foundations.
Pounding rain weakened south-facing slopes above Montecito and flooded a creek, sending mud and huge rocks rolling into housing areas.
Emergency services told reporters at least "two dozen" people were missing with "several dozen" homes damaged or destroyed. They said they had rescued scores of residents, including 50 airlifted by hoist.
The highest rainfall total was recorded at five inches (13 centimeters) in Ventura County, according to the National Weather Service Los Angeles.
Much of the affected area is land scorched by the massive Thomas fire last month, where there is no vegetation to soak up the excess water.
About 275 traffic crashes were logged in the California Highway Patrol's jurisdiction in Los Angeles County during the morning commute.
An evacuation order was issued in a section of the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank, which was hit by a mudslide that pulled cars out of driveways and carried them downstream.
The storm came after a 10-month dry spell in the area following torrential rains in January and February of last year.