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California mudslide victims aged from 3 to 89

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California mudslide victims aged from 3 to 89

California mudslide victims aged from 3 to 89
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Authorities in Southern Calilfornia have released the names of all 17 people killed in this week's mudslides, including three children, aged 3, 6 and 10, at least one married couple and two people in their 80s.

Rescue crews continue to search for eight people believed missing.

"The focus is still on search and rescue; that's still our primary goal," Amber Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said.

Among the dead were an elderly woman whose house was washed away by mud, the founder of a Roman Catholic school and a real estate executive, according to friends, family and local news media.

Two of the victims were killed when their houses were swept away in the mudslides.

Josephine Gower, 69, died when she opened the door to her house, her son, Hayden Gower, told NBC station KSBY. Her daughter-in-law Sarah Gower confirmed Gower's death in a Facebook post. Her body was found that night, near a highway hit by the slide.

"I told her to stay on the second floor, but she went downstairs and opened the door and just got swept away," Hayden Gower told the TV station. "I should have just told her to leave. You just don't even think that this is possible."

Roy Rohter, 84, founder of the St. Augustine Academy Roman Catholic school, died when the slide swept him from his home in Montecito, according to school officials and local news media.

Rebecca Riskin, the 61-year-old founder of a real estate firm, was also killed in Montecito, according to the company and local news media. She is survived by her husband and two children.

"She was in the house and was swept away," said Renee Grub, a friend of Riskin. "I'm told there was about 5 feet (1.5 m) of mud. She was a dear friend. She's so little, she was only like 100 pounds (45.36 kg)."

The full list of victims was released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Recovery workers, like Cameron Carlson, are among those deeply affected by the tragedy.

"It's kind of emotional to see all that happened here because it's something I've never seen and I've been doing this for 30 years," he said.

Last month's spate of wildfires, including the largest in Californian history, left the affluent area in Santa Barbara County vulnerable to mudslides.

The region's natural beauty and easy access to Los Angeles to the southeast have long attracted the rich and powerful, including media mogul and actress Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and actor Jeff Bridges.

"Our home has been severely damaged, but we are safe, and so thankful for that and for the first responders who are working tirelessly to save people," Bridges wrote on Twitter.

"We are heartbroken over the loss of lives in our community."

The disaster zone is now littered with the remnants of hundreds of damaged or destroyed homes.

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with Reuters