DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – A fierce storm triggered flooding in the Mohave Desert that killed at least two people and forced the closure of Death Valley National Park (search). Campers and visitors were evacuated from the park Monday.
The intense thunderstorm struck Sunday night, closing roads, stranding vehicles and knocking out power and water.
A day later, the bodies of two people remained in a vehicle stuck in mud, rock and debris, officials said. "We haven't been able to remove them yet," park spokeswoman Roxanne Dey said.
California Highway Patrol and National Park Service (search) helicopters spotted at least eight other vehicles off highways and dirt roads. Officials said they could not immediately tell if they were occupied.
"We're trying to account for all the visitors who were here," Death Valley Superintendent J.T. Reynolds told The Associated Press on Monday, using one of two telephone lines still operating from the park office.
Visitors to the 200-room Furnace Creek Ranch (search) and 20 people staying at a nearby campground were escorted by state police out of the park, Reynolds said.
He said rangers weren't sure if backcountry campers or hikers might have been caught in the flooding.
Reynolds said water and sewer lines were severed, and the park would be closed at least two days and possibly through the weekend. The last time the park closed that long was in 1985, he said.
A California highway that serves as the main road between the eastern Sierra and Nevada was closed for 130 miles, to near the Nevada state line. Another highway was closed to Shoshone, Calif.
The 3.4 million-acre park, about 300 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is the largest national park outside Alaska.