Rescue efforts ongoing after Utah floods kill at least 18

Search and rescue teams continue operations to find two people following flash floods in southern Utah killed at least 18 people

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Deadly flash flooding hit the Utah-Arizona border region.

Updated Sep 17, 2015

On Wednesday, search and rescue crews continued to search for two people including a 6-year-old boy missing after flash floods in southern Utah killed at least 18 people in Zion National Park and Hildale, a small polygamous town on the Utah-Arizona border.

Twelve people of a total of 16 women and children in two cars swept away on Monday afternoon by a wall of water and debris in Hildale were killed, only three people managed to escape, officials said.

Searchers found the missing boy, Tyson Lucas Black, who just turned 6 in August, Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow told reporters on Wednesday and he added that crews, some using sniffer dogs, were going back over the entire flood area, which extends for nearly 11 km along the banks of Short Creek.

At about the same time the group of four men and three women from California and Nevada, who haven’t been identified, had arrived at Zion National Park in southwestern Utah to climb, rappel and swim through a one-kilometre canyon route, according to the park officials

Six hikers from the group were also killed and one is missing, swept away by floods that coursed through Keyhole Canyon, a narrow canyon formed by water wearing through rock, in Zion National Park.

“People go out on the streets and kids will start playing,” Chris Wyler, a resident of Hildale told the news agency. “But this storm that hit yesterday, it was just so severe and so sudden.”

"It happened within like a half hour, 45 minutes, it was just gone. And then the sun was shining again," he added.

"I've lived here all my life, and I've never seen anything like this," Mayor Barlow, another resident of Hildale said.

On Tuesday, at a news conference, Hildale Mayor Phillip Barlow described the incident as a 100-year flood.

Utah officials urge residents in Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, to boil water before drinking.

"The recent flooding has possibly compromised the water quality of Hildale/Colorado City's drinking water system," the Utah Division of Emergency Management said Tuesday.

"Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice."

Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, are home to roughly 7,000 residents, and that both cities are known for being dominated by the "Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints" sect once led by polygamist Warren Jeffs who was sentenced to life in jail in 2011 after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old.

TRTWorld and agencies