Five More Bodies Found in California Mudslide

Authorities on Sunday found the bodies of five more people caught in a mudslide that engulfed a church camp on Christmas, and urged people in mountain areas scorched by fall wildfires to prepare for heavy rains Monday that could trigger more devastation.


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities on Sunday found the bodies of five more people caught in a mudslide that engulfed a church camp on Christmas, and urged people in mountain areas scorched by fall wildfires to prepare for heavy rains Monday that could trigger more devastation.

Two children washed away from the St. Sophia Camp were found tangled in debris more than four miles below, in a cement catch basin in downtown San Bernardino, said Chip Patterson, spokesman for the San Bernardino County sheriff's department.

Two women and a man, all in their 40s, were found closer to the camp in the San Bernardino Mountains. It took a bulldozer and other heavy equipment to find those bodies in the deep mud.

The grim discoveries brought the total number of bodies recovered from the Greek Orthodox camp to 12, with a baby boy and a teenage boy still unaccounted for, Patterson said. Two other people died in another mudslide Thursday at a campground about five miles away.

The identities of the victims found Sunday were not immediately known. People who had been counted among the missing included the camp's caretaker, Jorge Monzon, his wife, Carla, and their 6-month-old son, as well as Rosa Najera, 42, and her daughter Katherine, 6.

Authorities said the children found Sunday were a 7- to 9-year-old girl and a 12- to 14-year-old boy.

Patterson said crews would resume the search Monday morning.

``We may never find everyone,'' he said. ``We have to be practical. We may have bodies that have washed down several miles. This is not a mudslide, it's a massive flash flood.''

About 200 people attended a service honoring the victims Sunday at the Church of God Prophecy in San Bernardino, which many of those killed or missing had attended. Many of the victims also were immigrants from Guatemala, the Rev. Emilio Ruedas said.

Many cried quietly at the evangelical church, where worshippers swayed, waved their hands, sang in Spanish and shouted ``Amen'' and ``Hallelujah.'' One woman screamed and sobbed before collapsing in her chair during one song, and was escorted out several minutes later, visibly shaken.

Twenty-eight people were believed to have been celebrating Christmas at the camp when boulders, trees and 12-foot walls of mud crashed into the camp in Waterman Canyon, an area scoured bare of vegetation by fall wildfires. Fourteen of them were rescued.

The camp is run by Greek Orthodox parishes but there was no organized camp event on Christmas Day, said the Rev. John Bakas, dean of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Parts of the San Bernardino Mountains remained in danger, with officials expecting 3 to 4 inches of rain Monday night - about the amount that fell during the mudslide, county Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said.

A 30-mile swath of mountainside scorched by the wildfires was vulnerable to flash flooding, she said.

``We need to make sure folks realize that. Now is the time to prepare,'' she said. ``These folks that were cut off at the campground had no time to escape.''

Martinez said fire stations were handing out sandbags to residents but supplies were quickly diminishing.

Search teams Sunday fanned out and walked up a streambed, probing the mud with poles.

``This here has been searched, re-searched and searched again,'' searcher Wes Podboy said. ``We don't know what we're going to find.''

Near the campground chapel, about 20 of the victims' relatives viewed the scene from aboard a bus, where they held a prayer vigil.

Two bodies recovered Saturday near the camp chapel were identified Sunday as that of a girl about 7 to 10 years old and a man in his 30s.

Other victims have been identified as 11-year-old Jose Pablo Navarro of San Bernardino and his 13-year-old cousin, Ivan Navarro of Fontana, and Ramon Meza, 30, of San Bernardino.

Also found were two of the Monzons' daughters, Wendy, 17, and Raquel, 9.

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