A hydrant is almost covered in mud which came down hillsides from overnight rain in Montecito, California on January 9, 2018. (AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN)
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Rescue crews using helicopters and dogs searched the hills around wealthy Santa Barbara, California, Wednesday for people trapped or killed by rain-driven mudslides that left at least 15 people dead in the coastal community.Officials have ordered residents in a large swath of Montecito to stay in their homes so that rescuers can better go about their work.Rescuers worked through the night, searching for victims amid the dozens of homes that were destroyed, and using helicopters to lift more than 50 stranded residents from the mud.The number of fatalities surpassed the death toll from a California mudslide on Jan. 10, 2005, when 10 people were killed as a hillside gave way in the town of La Conchita, less than 30 km south of the latest disaster.Last month's wildfires, including the sprawling 110,640-hectare Thomas Fire, which became the largest in California history, left the area vulnerable to mudslides.
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