ONTARIO, Calif. (KABC) -- One person was killed and four others are missing and presumed dead after officials say 10 people were swept away in a rush of floodwaters in Ontario as a storm dumped heavy rains across Southern California this week.
Authorities received calls about multiple people in a wash in the 1200 block of E. 4th Street Tuesday. A swift water rescue team was dispatched to the area and conducted searches up and down the body of water.
Five of the individuals have been rescued, officials said. At least one body was recovered on Tuesday. Now, a recovery operation is underway to find the four missing individuals.
On Wednesday, the Ontario Fire Department said it was no longer conducting a rescue mission for the remaining individuals, but one of recovery. They're using sonar technology and have requested a dog trained in sniffing out human remains to be brought to the scene.
Though the operation is characterized as recovery efforts, authorities say it remains unknown if the missing individuals were able to get out of the water and walk away, or if they lost their lives.
The dive team that was out there Wednesday morning stayed out of the water because of hazardous objects at the bottom.
All 10 people who were swept away are believed to have been in a homeless encampment, sleeping under a bridge at 4th Street, when the flood waters came rushing down the channel Tuesday.
Authorities initially believed six people had been swept away.
Deputy Chief Mike Wedell said the flood control channel is secured with gates, signage and locks.
"We really need to stress to our public the dangers associated with these flood control channels and we need to stay out of there, at all costs, because the risk associated with being down there, because of the sudden changes in weather and the flow of water, incidents like this unfortunately could occur," he said.
Officials with the San Bernardino County HOPE team, which conducts outreach with those experiencing homelessness, were out in the area before the storm. However, it's unclear if they made contact with that group that was swept away or whether they ignored their warnings.
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