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Search for US Flash Flood Survivors Continues, 17 Confirmed Dead

Rescuers in Arkansas have resumed their search for survivors of a flash flood that tore through campsites at a national forest, killing at least 17 people.

Authorities are not sure how many people may be missing in the flood, which struck overnight Thursday as campers slept in the Ouachita National Forest.

Rescuers are moving portable cell phone towers to the area in the hope that stranded survivors will be able to call for help.

Officials estimate that as many as 300 people might have been camping in the area when heavy rains caused the Caddo and Little Missouri rivers to overflow their banks and send a torrent through campgrounds.

Arkansas state officials said Friday that 30 people had been rescued and that they received word concerning 73 people who may be missing.

Rescuers say the search for survivors and victims could take several days because of the heavily wooded and rocky terrain.

The White House says President Barack Obama called Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe Saturday to offer condolences for the loss of life and express his concern for those still missing.

Beebe said a number of children were among those killed. He told reporters that as the water recedes, officials are finding vehicles belonging to campers and tracing the license plate numbers in an effort to find the owners. The governor toured the flood-stricken area Friday and met with survivors and victims' families.

Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln told reporters the forest's remote location is complicating rescue efforts. Lincoln was touring the area Saturday with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The other senator from Arkansas, Mark Pryor, issued a statement saying his thoughts and prayers are with the people of his state and that Arkansans are pulling together to comfort and aid one another.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.