Three people were missing after a devastating mudslide hit the small mountain town of Collbran in western Colorado at about 6:15 p.m. local time Sunday (8:15 p.m. EDT), while officials said the unstable land around the slide has hampered the search.
The three missing people have been identified as 46-year-old Wes Hawkins, 53-year-old Clancy Nichols and his son 24-year-old son, Danny. The three men reportedly went to the area to investigate water stoppage, and have not been heard from since the massive mudslide occurred. Rescuers have not been able to find the vehicle and an all-terrain vehicle they apparently took with them, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The slide came down with so much force and velocity that it came to a hill and came up and over a hill and came back down -- a significant hill,” Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said, according to the Times.
According to officials, the three men might be trapped in the vast swathe of mud and crushed pine trees, which is estimated to be two miles wide, four miles long and up to 250 feet deep in some places. The disaster occurred after a small mudslide stopped the flow of irrigation water near West Salt Creek in Mesa County, about 230 miles west of Denver.
Here is video footage taken from a helicopter by the Mesa County sheriff's office, surveying miles of wreckage from the mudslide.
The area has not seen substantial rainfall but what little rain did fall on Sunday, and earlier this month, is believed to have contributed to the slide. While no damage was reported to any structures or roads, gas wells in the area were shut off, Weather.com reported.
“Nearby Grand Junction did pick up 0.42 inches of rain Sunday,” Jon Erdman, a meteorologist at Weather.com, said. “Another 1.05 inches of rain fell from May 10 to May 12. Higher totals atop Grand Mesa likely contributed to the slide.”