Chicago (AFP) June 13, 2010
The toll from a flash flood in the southern US state of Arkansas rose Sunday to 19 as a grim search through remote woodland turned up another body.
Police would not give the sex or age of the latest victim but six young children and 12 adults were already known to have perished, swept from their beds in the dead of night by a lethal torrent of water.
"To our knowledge, we only have one that's still missing," Mike Fletcher of the Arkansas state police told a press conference, confirming the new toll. "We're going to continue the search until we're satisfied.
"You've got to understand, this area is so rugged, there's so much debris. there's places you cannot get any equipment to."
Overnight downpours sent a wall of water tumbling down swollen river valleys, washing out camp grounds and destroying hillside cabins in the Ouachita National Forest, west of the state capital Little Rock.
Six of the dead were children and all but two of the victims came from out of state to camp and hike and fish in the rugged natural beauty of the national forest, located near the Ozark mountains.
Search and rescue officials and volunteers scoured a 10-mile stretch of the Little Missouri River in boats and kayaks Sunday as the search entered its third straight day in sweltering conditions.
The National Weather Service said that the heat index, a combination of heat and humidity, would reach into the high 90s and could peak at 100 Fahrenheit.
Bodies were recovered as much as eight miles (13 kilometers) downstream from the Albert Pike campground on the Little Missouri River, which bore the brunt of the deluge.
Debris in the river and the treacherous conditions along the river banks made for heavy going, DeCample said.
The damage caused by the flooding which raised the Little Missouri River by 20 feet overnight was more akin to a tornado than a flood, he said. It tore up asphalt, upended recreational vehicles and swept trucks away.
Survivors described a torrent of water that arrived without warning in the dead of night, sweeping through the forest and catching campers and families vacationing in hillside cabins completely unaware.
Terry Whatley, of Garland Texas, said that when someone banged on his door he came out to ankle-deep water.
"Within a matter of minutes it was up to my waist. And by the time I got my mother and nephew out, it was already at neck deep just about, and moving... at 45 to 50 miles an hour (72-88 kph)," he told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
An emotional Whatley said he and his family were lucky to be alive. "You just kind of think to yourself, 'Wow, this is really not how I planned to leave this Earth.'"
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US flash flood death toll reaches 18, including six children
Chicago (AFP) June 12, 2010
Rescuers searched miles of rivers and shoreline Saturday for survivors of a flash flood that tore through campsites in a remote forest in the southern US state of Arkansas, killing at least 18 people including six young children. Survivors described a torrent of water that arrived without warning, sweeping through the Ouachita National Forest and catching campers and families vacationing in ... read more
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