A family of five have been plucked from the debris of their home in a dramatic rescue amid devastating mudslides in California.
The couple and their three children – a seven-year-old boy, three-year-old girl and a baby – were rescued by the US Coast Guard in Carpinteria, a small oceanside city located in southeastern Santa Barbara County.
They were among dozens of people rescued by emergency workers following mudslides that have killed at least 13 people and injured at least 25.
The five-man Coast Guard crew, based in San Diego, were on an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and were called to help the family at about 11.30am local time.
Petty Officer First Class Rob Simpson said the area had been “severely impacted” by flooding and the situation was “definitely life and death…crews could not get in by the road”.
One of the crew’s rescue swimmers Erin Custer told Fox 5: “The first floor of their house was about three, four feet of mud, so they were having to wade through.
“We then didn’t decide to put the basket down in the mud just because we didn’t know what was underneath the mud.
“So we decided to hoist them from the roof, but we did have to pull them from the roof in order to hoist them up to the helicopter.”
The story was one of many dramatic rescues following the mudslides.
In nearby Montecito, a 14-year-old girl was found by a rescue dog, prompting a two-hour mission that ended with firefighters pulling her free.
She had been trapped in her home after the mud had lifted it from its foundations.
“I thought I was dead for a minute there,” the dazed girl was heard saying on video posted by KNBC-TV, before she was taken away on a stretcher.
A second girl of the same age was rescued in the neighbourhood and carried to safety by half a dozen firefighters who trudged through ankle-deep mud, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
In Montecito, a young boy was swept more than half a mile south from his house after it too was lifted from its foundations.
He was found alive under an overpass but his father is still missing.
The numbers of dead and missing could rise when searching resumes at daybreak on Wednesday, with a big search and rescue team due to arrive from Los Angeles County.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said: “Right now our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged.”