Hopes of finding anyone alive dwindle in mudstricken town


first_imgMONTECITO, Calif. — More than two full days after mudslides ravaged this coastal town, the search for the missing became an increasingly desperate exercise Thursday, with growing doubts about whether anyone would be found alive. Seventeen people were confirmed dead and eight others were unaccounted for.“They’re not going to find survivors anymore. They’re going to find bodies in the mud,” said David Weinert, who feared two of his neighbors were among the dead and turned out to be right in at least one case. “It’s emotional for me to say this, but I think they’re gone.”The air smelled of sewage and ash as more than a dozen firefighters climbed through rubble in the backyard of a mansion that had been ripped in half. Some rescuers used poles to probe the muck for bodies, while others waded chest-deep in the mire. Two search dogs swam around, trying to pick up any scent.“At this moment we are still looking for live victims,” said Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney. But he confessed: “The likelihood is increasing that we’ll be finding bodies, not survivors. You have to start accepting the reality of that.”He noted that one survivor pulled from the muck earlier in the week was suffering from hypothermia after just an hour.Crews marked places where bodies were found, often far away from a home, and used that information to guess where other victims might have ended up as the surging mud carried or buried them.last_img read more