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Three men still missing after huge mudslide in Colorado, search called off

The aftermath of the mudslide, viewed from a plane on Monday. (Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Associated Press)

Three men are missing after a mudslide in northwestern Colorado over the weekend that stretches across several miles and is thought to be about 250 feet deep in some spots.

This slide occurred Sunday in a remote area near Collbran, a small town in Mesa County. Although it is about four miles long and two miles wide, the slide didn’t damage any homes or affect any major roads.

But three people thought to be in the area have been missing since the slide hit. They went to check on their irrigation water because it had been cut off after an initial slide, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. While they were there, a second slide occurred.

The three have been identified by Mesa County as Danny Nichols, 24; his father, Clancy Nichols, 51; and Wes Hawkins, 46.

Dozens of emergency workers and search personnel had been trying to find them in the wake of the slide. But the slide area is very unstable, according to county authorities, and it continued moving through Sunday into Monday.

The search was suspended on Tuesday because the slide area was unsafe, the sheriff’s office said. Flights over the area continued, but the focus had shifted from a search effort to a recovery operation.

“This slide is unbelievably big,” Lt. Phil Stratton with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The mudslide occurred just two months after a large slide in Washington state killed 41 people and demolished a wide area. The active search in Washington ended last month with two bodies still not located.

This video from the sheriff’s office helps illustrate just how much land is covered by the Colorado slide:

This post has been updated.


Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.



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