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Bay Area mudslide swamps buildings

February 28, 2007|From the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A wide swath of hillside came thundering down on several apartment buildings in the city's North Beach district Tuesday, forcing more than 100 residents from their homes.

The shower of rocks and dirt shortly after 3 a.m. led authorities to close a main thoroughfare for several hours but caused no injuries. At least 120 residents were displaced and several buildings were declared off-limits as engineers tried to figure out how to stabilize the cliff to prevent further damage.

The slide deposited a pile of debris more than 30 feet high and 75 feet wide against buildings at the bottom of the hill and left one 45-unit condo complex perched on the brink of the cliff.

At least seven buildings, including a strip club and the condos, were red-tagged by building inspectors, meaning no one can go inside. Several others were yellow-tagged, which means residents may go in to retrieve belongings but cannot stay.

The extent of damage and the cause of the slide were not immediately known, but officials said recent rains may have been a factor. More than half an inch of rain had fallen since Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Department of Public Works Deputy Director Mohammed Nuru described the hill as "super saturated."

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