At least seven people were killed, and six others were missing after a strong thunderstorm triggered flash flooding in southern Utah, a fire department official said.
The floodwaters in the small town of Hildale on the Utah-Arizona border washed away two vehicles carrying a total of 16 people, Hildale Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said.
The two vehicles were “hit by a large wall of water and debris” and subsequently carried into the flood, Washington County Emergency Services said in a statement.
Three people have so far been rescued in the ordeal, which occurred around 4:40 p.m. local time.
Several children and mothers were among the dead or missing, Barlow said.
Flash flood results in fatalities in Hildale, Utah on Sept. 14, 2015 Chris and Lydia Wyler / St. George News
“This hit with a vengeance we haven’t seen for some time,” Barlow said.
Search and rescue efforts were called off until the morning due to the dangers of flowing mud, sand, boulders and debris, officials said.
Ted Barlow, who lives just over the Arizona border in the neighboring town of Colorado City, Arizona, described the storm as among the worst in decades.
The downpour lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes and brought rapid and intense flooding from nearby mountains.
“Everyone is family here, and it’s a tragedy however you look at it,” Barlow said.
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