Deadly flash flooding triggered by a thunderstorm has killed at least eight people in southern Utah, with five more people missing, according to reports emerging in the media.
JUST IN: 8 dead in flash flooding near Utah-Arizona border, according to Hildale Fire Dept. pic.twitter.com/XKGU3tRrW3— Justin Abraham (@jjabraham) September 15, 2015
NBC reports that the flash floods came after torrential rains fell in the canyons just north of Hildale, a small town on the Utah-Arizona border, and its sister town of Colorado City, Arizona, sending waves of water barreling through the streets.
An SUV and a van, carrying a total of sixteen people, have been swept away in the flooding. The people were “caught unawares” by the water that suddenly surged around them, finally causing the ground beneath them to give way, submerging them in mud, water and debris. Kevin Barlow, the assistant fire chief in Hildale, confirmed the flash floods have been the worst Utah has seen for a long time.
“This hit with a vengeance we haven’t seen for some time.”
Though there have been no confirmed reports about the identities of the people who fell victim to the deadly flash floods, the vehicles which were swept away were thought to be carrying children and women, who were returning from a nearby park.
Washington County Emergency Services released a statement in the aftermath of the incident, confirming reports that the cars were swept away as flash floods tore through the streets in Utah.
“The cars were hit by a large wall of water and debris.”
Several people are believed to be trapped under mud and debris in the town of Hildale, and according to Reuters, rescue crews were working to find trapped people inside. Three people were rescued during the ghastly ordeal, which occurred around 4:40 p.m. local time (6:40 p.m. ET). Though the search continued through the night on Monday, at least a dozen people are still believed to be missing.
Utah Divison of Emergency Management said the search will continue in the area around Maxwell Canyon, which is only about a hundred miles north of the Grand Canyon National Park, and extended their support to the victims of the flash floods.
“This is going to be a heartbreaking night. Our prayers are with the search and rescue teams and those families who are aching for their loved ones.”
The National Weather Service had earlier issued a flash flood warning, and though the residents in Utah are used to stormy weather, perhaps no one would have expected the floods to be so terrorizing.
[Photo by David Pardo/The Victor Valley Daily Press via AP]