- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2003

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities yesterday found the bodies of five more persons caught in a mudslide that engulfed a church camp on Christmas, and warned that heavy rain forecast for today could bring more destruction.

Two children washed away from the St. Sophia Camp were found tangled in debris more than four miles below, in a cement catch basin in downtown San Bernardino, said Chip Patterson, spokesman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Two women and a man, all in their 40s, were found closer to the camp in the San Bernardino Mountains. It took a bulldozer and other heavy equipment to find those bodies in the deep mud.

The grim discoveries brought the total number of bodies recovered from the Greek Orthodox camp to 12, with a baby boy and a teenage boy still unaccounted for, Mr. Patterson said. Two other persons died in another mudslide Thursday at a campground about five miles away.

The identities of the victims found yesterday were not immediately known. People who had been counted among the missing included the camp’s caretaker, Jorge Monzon, his wife, Carla, and their 6-month-old son, as well as Rosa Najera, 42, and her daughter Katherine, 6.

Authorities have identified the bodies of two of the Monzons’ children, Wendy, 17, and Raquel, 9, found last week.

Authorities said the children found yesterday were a 7- to 9-year-old girl and a 12- to 14-year-old boy.

Mr. Patterson said search crews, including six corpse-sniffing dogs, would resume the search today.

“We may never find everyone,” Mr. Patterson added. “We have to be practical. We may have bodies that have washed down several miles. This is not a mudslide; it’s a massive flash flood.”

A memorial service was held yesterday afternoon at the Church of God of Prophecy in San Bernardino, which many of those killed or missing had attended.

Twenty-eight persons were believed to have been spending Christmas Day at St. Sophia when the mudslide roared through the camp. Fourteen persons were rescued.

Officials expected 3 to 4 inches of rain in the area tonight — about the amount that fell during the mudslide, sheriff’s spokeswoman Tracy Martinez said.


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