Update: Toll in US camp flood disaster rises to 16
UPDATE: The toll from flash floods that swept through campsites in an Arkansas national forest Friday has risen to 16 dead, police said.
Bill Sadler, spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, said he had no details on the fatalities.
Earlier figures indicated 12 people had been killed after rivers rose by six meters (20 feet) overnight following heavy rain
Authorities have launched a massive rescue operation in the rugged mountainous area along the Caddo and Little Missouri Rivers, with dozens of rescuers on foot combing the area and three helicopters scouring the campgrounds in search of survivors.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
CHICAGO Ã¢â‚¬â€ Flash floods washed away camp sites in the US state of Arkansas on Friday, killing at least 12 people, police said, as a massive rescue operation was launched in the rugged mountainous area.
Helicopters scoured camp grounds along the Lower Missouri River to track down survivors after up to six inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell overnight in the remote hiking area.
“At this time we have confirmed, through a search, of at least 12 known to be dead,” police spokesman Bill Sadler told CNN. “We believe there are still individuals trapped in that area.
“The primary mission of the Arkansas state police working with local authorities right now is to get the living out of that area and locate the dead. This is an ongoing search operation at this hour,” he said.
Gov. Mike Beebe, in Dumas for an economic develop announcement, said the deaths occurred about 5:30 a.m., when the water hit its peak. He said he did not plan to visit the site immediately.
“I don’t want to get in the way,” Beebe said. “There is an intense search-and-rescue attempt.”
The Little Missouri west of Caddo Gap stood at 3 feet Thursday but after 7.6 inches of rain fell in the area overnight the level jumped to 23.5 feet by Friday morning. At 10 a.m. it had dropped to 11.5 feet.
The damage was centered around the Camp Albert Pike area, 75 miles west of Little Rock.
Rainfall totaled 7.6 inches at Glenwood, a weather reporting station about 20 miles from the scene, according to data from the National Weather Service at North Little Rock. Marty Trexler, a senior meteorologist, said heavy rain fell throughout the region before moving into northern Arkansas later Friday morning.