Flash flooding kills two sisters in Utah canyon

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two sisters aged seven and three died in flash flooding that sent torrents of water roaring into a narrow canyon in the Utah desert, authorities said on Tuesday.

At least 21 others escaped the flooding on Monday afternoon in Little Wildhorse Canyon, where the curving sandstone walls are so narrow at points that hikers must turn sideways to walk through.

The girls were hiking with their father and mother when the storm hit. The father found his seven-year-old daughter’s body before authorities were called to the scene, according to Emery County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Janalee Luke. Their names were not immediately released.

The family from the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan was camping in the area for Mother’s Day, the Deseret News reported.

The three-year-old sister was found on Tuesday, after dozens of searchers combed the area for hours with the help of helicopters about 320 kilometres south of Salt Lake City. A piece of her clothing was found in a wash miles away.

The others who escaped were with different groups, Luke said.

Flooding hit after an isolated thunderstorm storm crossed nearby Goblin Valley State Park, known for its otherworldly bulbous stone formations.

Little Wild Horse Canyon is considered a popular, family friendly trail that displays awe-inspiring colourful stone walls, but flash flooding is a risk in the narrow formations known as a slot canyons.

A slot canyon at Little Wild Horse Canyon, about 320 kilometres south of Salt Lake City, Utah. PHOTO: AP