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Rescuers Call Off Search for Survivors in California Mudslide


Rescue workers have called off their search for survivors in La Conchita, California, where a mudslide buried part of the tiny coastal community Monday. The mudslide killed 10, and rescuers have given up hope of finding more survivors.

Ventura County fire chief Bob Roper said rescuers reluctantly ended their search Thursday morning, 56 hours after the last survivor was dug out from the rubble. At least 15 houses were buried in the mudslide, which came without warning Monday afternoon. The fire chief said rescuers have worked long and hard since then, and that they grieve alongside residents for the victims, but that now is a time to think about the future.

"It's time to try to rebuild the community, and that's what we're here to do," said Mr. Roper.

Rescue operations, involving hundreds of emergency workers, were called off as geologists noted ground movement that suggested the threat of another mudslide.

Some who lost their homes insist they will rebuild, but local authorities say inspectors must ensure that the ground is stable. Remaining homes are being inspected for structural soundness.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who toured the neighborhood Wednesday, promised help to rebuild the community. Local officials say it may be difficult to make the location safe. A mudslide 10 years ago destroyed nine homes in La Conchita, located 100 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles. A retaining wall built since then did little to slow the collapse of the hillside Monday.

Among those who grieved was a man who lost his wife and three of his four daughters.

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