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Girl, 8, and boy, 4, dead after getting swept away in strong California river current

The pair were with their mother at the Kings River, which has been closed to recreational users since March due to high water levels.

An 8-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother are dead after they were swept away Sunday in a California river closed to recreational users because of high water levels, authorities said.

The siblings were with their mother and her friend at Kings River, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. They entered the water about a mile from the Pine Flat Dam, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

"The group was trying to make their way out to a specific rock to climb on when the current carried the kids away," the sheriff's office said. "Neither were wearing life jackets."

The children were swept downstream shortly before 2 p.m., according to the statement.

The 8-year-old girl was found less than an hour into the search, near where she had gotten in the water. The 4-year-old was found Monday morning almost 2 miles downstream from where he went in the water Sunday, the sheriff’s office said.

The children's names have not been released.

Details on the status of their mother and her friend were not immediately clear.

Kings River has been closed to recreational users since March 14, according to the statement. The central California river was closed to recreational users after heavy winter storms and melting snow created high water levels. There are multiple closure signs warning the public to stay out of the water, and refusal to do so comes with a minimum fine of $225, the sheriff's office said.

Kings River.
Kings River.Fresno County Sheriff's Office / via Facebook

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is warning swimmers that the river's conditions will worsen in the summer.

"The conditions of our waterways will only become more dangerous heading into summer as snow melts and dams release even more water into the rivers. The water remains cold, in the low 50s, the current is swift and trees serve as dangerous obstacles," the sheriff's office said.

The river's water levels are being monitored on a daily basis, and officials said it will reopen once the dangerous conditions subside.