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Five hikers declared dead in Colorado rockslide

8:06 PM, Sep 30, 2013   |    comments
A Flight for Life Helicopter rises above backed up traffic Monday Sept. 30, 2013, in south-central Colorado. Roads were closed as emergency personnel work to aid hikers trapped after a rock slide on the trail to Agnes Vaille Falls. (Photo: James Redmond, AP)
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Five hikers trapped by a rockslide in the Colorado mountains were declared dead Monday, authorities said.

Chaffee County Sheriff Pete Palmer said the five were trapped by large boulders, some the size of a car, and that rescuers concluded their situation was not survivable, county spokeswoman Laura Smith said.

Rescuers removed an injured teenage girl from the rockslide but were unable to reach the five missing hikers.

The girl, 13, was pulled from the debris with injuries Monday afternoon and flown by helicopter to Children's Hospital in Aurora, Colo. The sheriff's department said her condition was unknown.

Another county spokesman, Dave Cotten, said rescuers backed away from the slide debris late in the afternoon because of concerns it was highly unstable. He said county authorities brought in mining engineers to evaluate the debris and make recommendations on further efforts to recover the hikers. Smith said recovery efforts would resume Tuesday.

Authorities said the initial emergency call said there could have been as many as seven hikers involved, but that they now believe the number was six, including the evacuated child.

Palmer said names of the killed hikers were not yet being released.

The slide occurred approximately 1 mile above the trailhead and the area is unsafe, the sheriff's department advised.

Smith said the sheriff's office received a call shortly after 11 a.m. that five to seven people were hiking at a remote spot near Agnes Vaille Falls when the slide was triggered.

She said the scene is near the tiny town of Nathrop, Colo., and that the falls are a about a half mile hike from County Road 162. KUSA-TV reported the site was near Mt. Princeton and Chalk Creek Cliffs.

Colorado's mountains have seen heavy rains and flooding in recent weeks. Smith said it's not known what caused the slide or if it was related to the rains.

First responders from a variety of local and state agencies were on the scene, she said.


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