Colorado landslide: miraculous escape for more than 100 motorists

Flash flood warnings were issued within minutes of a hillside collapsing onto motorway

Thirty people had to be dug out of a tunnel after a mudslide in western Colorado left 70 others trapped overnight along a road.

Rescuers had to dig through tonnes of mud and rock to reach them, as well as helping 70 people who spent the night on the motorway after their vehicles had become trapped by the deluge of mud which swamped Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon.

The trapped motorists were all freed on Friday evening and are now at a road service area, according to Walt Stowe, a spokesman for the local police department.

Everyone reported missing – 108 people in total, including 29 trapped in the tunnel – have been accounted for, Mr Stowe said.

This came as a relief to many who had earlier feared there may have been fatalities, due to heavy rain and a history of landslides in the area.

“We try not to have people in the canyon when there are warnings. This is the best-case scenario that we could have,” Mike Goolsby, a local transport department official, told The Denver Post.

Two flash flood warnings were issued before the landslide occurred, one of several in the area that created a covering of mud and debris up to four metres deep.

The landslide hit within minutes of a second flash flood warning, local officials said, leaving those caught in the deluge almost no time to react.

Local officials said the cleanup operation could take until Monday. Several vehicles had been abandoned in the mud.

Updated: July 31st 2021, 7:45 AM