California highway swamped by deadly mudslides reopens

Urban Search and Rescue team helped in searching for mudslide survivors

Authorities said Saturday they had found the body of a woman who had been listed at missing in the deadly California mudslides, putting the number of fatalities at 21 with two people still missing.

Benitez's death follows the deaths of her 10-year-old son, Jonathan, his cousin Kaily Benitez, 3, and Kailly's mother, Marilyn Ramos, 27, from the mudslides.

This month's mudslides have injuring dozens and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in the coastal town of Montecito, an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County, about 93 miles north of Los Angeles along the Pacific coast. Soil hardened by the heat repelled water and sent mud, debris and giant boulders tumbling from the mountains above the community of 10,000 people.

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There are now 16 human remain detection dog teams from throughout the state working together to locate missing victims.

(California Department of Transportation) U.S. Highway 101 at Olive Mill Road in Montecito on January 21, 2018, after two weeks of cleanup following deadly mudslides that closed the highway for weeks.

The agency said on Saturday the highway would be open to drivers on Monday, but it appears officials were able to get it safely cleared even sooner. It should miss the mudslide-devastated region of southern California.

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