UPDATE 1-One dead, two missing in Colorado flash flood and mudslide

Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:31am IST

(Updates with one of missing found, other details)

By Keith Coffman

DENVER Aug 10 (Reuters) - A 53-year-old man was killed and two people were missing in Colorado after floodwaters and a mudslide triggered by torrential rains roared down mountainsides stripped of vegetation by a wildfire, authorities said on Saturday.

The man who was found dead early Saturday on the side of a highway that leads up to the 14,000-foot (4,300-meter) Pikes Peak lived in an adjacent county, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"The body was not inside a vehicle and much of the body was buried beneath significant amounts of debris," the sheriff's office said.

Autopsy results were pending, but it is believed the man drowned trying to escape the rushing water, the sheriff's office said.

Nearly 1.5 inches (4 cm) of rain fell in 30 minutes on Friday night in an area devastated by a wildfire last year, causing a creek to overflow its banks and cascade across a state highway and into the town of Manitou Springs, about 6.5 miles (10 km) west of Colorado Springs.

Manitou Springs Police Chief Joe Ribeiro told a news conference on Saturday that one of three people reported missing earlier in the day had been located, but two people remained unaccounted for.

"We've gained no ground on locating those people," Ribeiro said of the rescue and recovery efforts.

Ribeiro said about 40 vehicles swept away in the torrent had been towed out of the debris, while six buildings had been deemed unsafe to enter and another 11 structures sustained limited damage from the flood and mud flow.

Footage aired by local television showed a wall of water carrying vehicles down the narrow canyon roadway and into the town, which sits at the foot of Pikes Peak.

Leslie Lewis, executive director of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, said she was in her office when flood-warning sirens went off on Friday evening.

She watched as Fountain Creek jumped its banks and when the waters receded, the downtown area was strewn with tree branches, other debris and several inches of mud.

"Now I know why they call it a flash flood - it was a very, very quick event," she said by phone.

The National Weather Service issued another flash flood watch for the area on Saturday, as heavy rains are forecast to hover over the region. (Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Scott Malone and David Brunnstrom)