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Search continues on swollen US river for SUV matching missing Indian family's vehicle

Friday, April 13, 2018

Los Angeles: Authorities in California have set up a joint incident command centre to trace the occupants of a vehicle that was swept away in flood waters, a week after four members of an Indian family went missing in the area.

The search was still on just north of Leggett for an SUV that was swept away with its occupants in flood waters on Friday, which matches the description of the SUV driven by the Thottappilly family missing since Thursday, The Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper reported.

Two adults and two children of the Thottappilly family were on their way from Portland, Oregon, in a maroon Honda Pilot to San Jose, where they suddenly stopped communicating with family in Valencia.

Sandeep Thottappilly, 42, father; Soumya, 38, mother; Siddhant, 12, their son; and 9-year-old Saachi, their daughter were in the SUV when it went missing.

Sandeep worked as a vice-president with the Union Bank and lived in Los Angeles with his family.

Sandeep grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the US over 15 years ago, a relative said.

Searchers under the direction of the Garberville California Highway Patrol (CHP) remained at Eel River, just north of Leggett, were still searching, a spokesman for the Gaberville CHP told The Signal newspaper.

On Tuesday, officers with the Garberville CHP set up  joint incident command center with Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, Cal-Fire, Leggett Volunteer Fire, Piercy Volunteer Fire and Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue "to organise continuous search efforts for the missing vehicle and occupants," CHP Officer William Wunderlich wrote in a CHP Facebook post.

"All available resources are being utilised by searching personnel," he said.

"Through the collaborated efforts of all the involved agencies we are working to resolve this incident as quickly and safely as possible," Wunderlich wrote.

"Rescue personnel will be searching the immediate and surrounding areas and constantly evaluating the condition of the river and the weather during the search efforts," he wrote on the latest CHP Facebook post.

The CHP received a report on April 6 of a traffic collision of a vehicle into the Eel River, he said.

The incident happened on US Highway 101 at the Eel River.

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