At least 8 dead in Arizona flash flooding

Lawrence Kim
July 17, 2017

More than 100 people were relaxing at Cold Springs Swimming Hole in Tonto National Forest when they were hit by a flash flood yesterday.

So far a total of 9 people have been reported dead, two of which are children, and one teen boy still remains missing.

The Gila County Sheriff's Office said nine bodies were recovered throughout the day Sunday and that a 27-year-old man is still missing. Authorities did not identify them.

Four people were rescued Saturday and airlifted to Banner Hospital, he said.

According to CNN, a search and rescue mission is still ongoing, and the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for most of Arizona until Monday evening.

The popular cooling spot, known as the Ellison Creek or Water Wheel swimming holes, is accessible through several hiking trails.

"They had no warning".

There had been thunderstorms throughout the area near Payson, about an hour and half's drive from Phoenix, but it wasn't raining where the swimmers were.

"It's monsoon season in Arizona and these storms build quickly and dump a lot of moisture", Hornung explained.

"It probably got up to about 4 feet, I would say, and where we were walking, you could see all the broken tree branches and mud everywhere", Alexander said. It happens every year.

"If it's an intense burn, it creates a glaze on the surface that just repels water", said Darren McCollum, a meteorologist.

Elsewhere in the U.S., officials are concerned flooding could impact the start of classes next month. But he also said that despite previous flash floods in the region, it remained a popular destination. Visitors are reminded to be vigilant about the weather, he said. They likely had no way of knowing a thunderstorm was touching off a flood upstream.

A witness filmed the aftermath of the fatal flood which hit the 2.5m deep pool where the extended families from Flagstaff and Phoenix were swimming, ABC Arizona reports.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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