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1 person dead, 4 missing after fast-moving water sweeps through California homeless encampment

Five other people were rescued after they were swept away following heavy rain in the Southern California city of Ontario on Tuesday, officials said.
Emergency personnel search for possible victims who were swept away by a wash following a storm in Ontario, Calif, on Nov. 9, 2022.
Emergency personnel search Wednesday for possible victims who were swept away by a wash following a storm in Ontario, Calif.Ontario Fire Dept. via Twitter

One person was dead and four were missing after fast-moving waters from heavy rain hit a homeless encampment in Southern California on Tuesday, officials said.

Officials rescued four other people who had been swept away in Ontario, and another person managed to pull out of the water, said Dan Bell, the city's communications director. All have been medically cleared, he added.

Officials believe all of the people were living in a homeless encampment near an area that feeds into a basin, Bell said.

Homeless outreach officials from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department reported Tuesday morning that there were six people who needed to be rescued from a riverbed in the 1200 block of East Fourth Street, according to information released by the city.

“They were doing their normal outreach ahead of a storm, from what I gathered,” Bell said of those officials.

The fire department tweeted Wednesday that "there has been an increase to the number of possible victims since yesterday as more info becomes available."

Bell said officials pieced together the higher number of victims based on information provided by witnesses.

The five rescues were conducted Tuesday, the fire department said. Two of the people were cleared at hospitals, and one refused medical treatment.

Officials have not released the identities of the missing victims and the deceased person, Bell said.

The fast-moving waters, shown in a tweet posted by the fire department, followed heavy rain overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning, NBC Los Angeles reported.

"Here’s a quick video of how fast the current is moving," said the fire department tweet, posted Tuesday. "Please stay clear of any riverbed or flood channels."

"Remember, just 6 inches of water can sweep you away," the fire department added in a subsequent tweet. "Stay clear of all moving water!"

Recovery efforts for the four missing victims continue, Bell said.

"We're not presuming they're dead. We're trying to find them, but ... we're calling it recovery because we don't know where they are," he said.