Arkansas Flooding, At Least 16 People Dead

At least 16 people are dead after heavy rain and flooding swept through a federal campground in Arkansas Friday morning, June 11, 2010.

As of Friday afternoon, 16 bodies have been recovered and dozens more people are still missing, said Chad Stover, a public affairs officer of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. As many as 300 more people could be trapped in the Albert Pike campground area in Caddo Gap, Arkansas. A search is currently being conducted for all of the missing people.

The rain flooded the Little Missouri Rivers and at one point water rose eight feet an hour after more than a half-foot of rain.

“You know, it’s never easy to approach one of these things where there are mass casualties,” Bill Sadler, a state police spokesman said. “But what makes it even more difficult is that you’re in a very remote area. And you just can’t get enough people in there quick enough to begin searching and trying to help.”

“The primary mission of the Arkansas State Police, working with local authorities right now, is to get the living out of the area and locate the dead,” Sadler said.

A spokesman for St. Joseph’s Mercy Health System in Hot Springs said five flood victims were in stable condition there.

U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, said she’s praying for those injured or trapped and praised the first responders at the scene.

“As Arkansans, we have experienced our share of severe weather. Through it all, our citizens remain strong and resilient,” Lincoln said in a statement.

Recovery from the flooding is “going to be a lengthy and painful process,” said Matt DeCample, a spokesman for the governor.

No information on the ages or identities of the dead bodies recovered has been released.

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