Utah Flash Flooding Kills 16

Flash floods have killed at least 16 people in the US state of Utah, with one person still missing.Twelve of 16 people in two vehicles swept away on Monday by a wall of water in Hildale were killed. Three children survived. One person is missing.

Hildale once served as a home base for polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs.

Four hikers from a group of seven were also killed in Zion National Park, swept away by floods that coursed through a narrow canyon.

The National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning earlier. The floods followed heavy rains in the canyons just north of Hildale.

But there were concerns the warnings may not have reached sect members.

Members of Jeffs’ sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), are discouraged from having contact with the outside world.

The FLDS broke off from the official Mormon church when the main church denounced polygamy in the late 19th Century .

In 2011, Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting underage girls whom he considered brides.

He is believed to have up to 70 wives, according to Amira News, which interviewed former members of FLDS in May.

However, the community is split between loyalists who still believe Jeffs is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society.

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