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California Storms

This photo shows a home that has been buried in flood debris in Montecito. Several homes were swept away before dawn Tuesday when mud and debris roared into neighborhoods in Montecito (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

13 people killed after 'waist-deep mudslide' hits California

Nick Reilly

At least 13 people are believed to have been killed after ‘waist-deep’ mudslides in Southern California, which were triggered by heavy rain.

163 people have  also been taken to hospital, with twenty suffering ‘storm-related injuries’.

A group of up to 300 people have reportedly been trapped in Romero Canyon, which is east of Santa Barbara.

The flooding and mudslides are believed to have heavily affected areas scorched by wildfires last month, and have shut down more than 30 miles of the main coastal road.

The mudflow began in the community of Montecito, an upmarket neighbourhood where homes are owned by celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.

On Monday, thousands of California residents were asked to leave their homes – with officials issuing a mandatory evacuation order in some areas.

The mudslide comes after December’s California wildfire which caused burned vegetation and charred soil – creating a water repellent layer that is extremely susceptible to causing both mudslides and floods.

‘Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where dangerous mud and debris flows are possible’, the National Weather Service confirmed in a statement.