tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC June 11, 2010 6:30pm-6:34pm EDT
tonight on "world news," flash flood. two rivers rise 20 feet in just hours. roaring through a popular arkansas campground. at least 16 dead and many more missing tonight. forbidding forecast. the gulf coast and the new reality. so much worse than anyone was first told. and tonight, the latest victims, the turtles. fan frenzy. robin roberts is at the world cup tonight. and what was this? about elephant blocking the american team? and a faithful friend. tonight, we test your memory. remember the little boy that captured the heart of the world? his champion is our "person of the week."
good evening. we're going to have late developments from the gulf in just a moment, but we begin tonight with deadly flash flooding in the south. it was hard to imagine when we first got word of rain falling so hard, so fast, that in a matter of five hours, water levels rose 20 feet. it happened in arkansas at a popular campground as families were sleeping. two rivers so swollen, the waters came roaring over their banks. at least 16 people are dead, including children, and tonight, no one is sure how many more are missing. chris bury starts us off in little rock tonight. >> reporter: david, rescuers say it was like a giant wave washed over the campground, and tonight, they are looking for as many as three dozen campers who are still missing. the little missouri river is still raging tonight, normally a quiet waterway. it rose 20 feet overnight, engulfing dozens of hikers and came persons sleeping in tenlts and trailers along the river banks. crystal was asleep in her cabin. >> about 1:20, 2:00 in the
morning, we started childrening childr screaming and crying. they were trying to come up to the hill where the cabin was to escape the rising water. >> reporter: at the albert pike campground, the rain started about 9:00 last night. within hours, the river, which is normally about three feet, swelled to more than 23 feet. >> we saw rainfall amounts over eight, nine inches, and plus the fact that the rain was falling in the higher terrain, as well, and all that water rushes down into the valleys where the river was, and that's why the river rose as quick as it did. >> reporter: the site is in this picturesque forest, popular with campers. it's that isolation that's making search and rescue so difficult. >> the water rose so quickly, it was within ten minutes, the water had rose and campers were floating down, i mean if they didn't get out of their camper within five, ten minutes, they
weren't getting out. >> reporter: tonight, rescuers are still looking for those who did not get out, using canoes and kayaks. the river rose too fast and moved too quickly. >> there's a lot of devastation in there. there's vehicles overturned, cabins washed off their foundations. >> reporter: victims may be pain staking. officials say tonight it could take two to three weeks to find all those bodies, including the children. david? >> chris bury, starting us off, thank you. and arkansas's governor late today told reporters that the most recent body discovered was eight miles down the little missouri river, carried by the sheer force of that water. i spoke just moments ago with our affiliate katv about the search efforts. roger, we heard from chris bury that there were reports of screams around 1:30 or 2:00 this morning. i'm curious, was there ever any kind of warning for the famil s families? >> reporter: well, david, under 2:00 a.m., the national weather service did issue a flash flood
warning for the area. but unless people were awake and listening to a radio, they probably would not have received it. and cell phone service in that area is practically nonexistent. so most of the came persons would have been sitting ducks. >> reporter: and you know the region better than we do. it's very popular among families that camp there. how do they get down to the river? >> reporter: well, david, it is primarily tent camping, and families would have to climb down to the bottom of the valley where the river is located and climb back up in the event of an emergency. even if they received a warning, it would be a difficult area to get out of quickly. david? >>