CHAFFEE COUNTY - Five hikers were trapped by a rockslide near Mount Princeton in Chaffee County and declared dead Monday, authorities said.
The bodies of the five victims have yet to be recovered.
A 13-year-old girl was pulled from the debris by first responders and flown to Children's Hospital in Aurora. She is expected to be OK. Another hiker witnessed the rockslide and called 911.
The Chaffee County Coroner's Office confirmed the hikers' deaths Monday evening after a day-long rescue operation.
Officials say the six people were hiking on the Agnes Vaille Falls Trail Monday morning when they were caught in the rockslide about one mile up from the trailhead. The trail is off County Road 162.
"What the geologists said, there was a cliff face above. It looks like it came loose," Chaffee County Undersheriff John Spezze said. "It's a lot of very large rocks and boulders and a lot of loose smaller rocks, but it all came down in a very large slide."
Authorities said the initial emergency call said there could have been as many as seven hikers involved, but that they now believe the number was six, including the evacuated child.
Several agencies including engineers and geology experts were on scene to help with rescue efforts that have now turned into a recovery operation.
Officials say the site of slide is very unsafe at the moment, and no one is allowed up other than rescue workers. Chaffee County Sheriff Peter Palmer said recovery operations will resume Tuesday.
"We will go back in as soon as the area can be declared safe for the search teams," Sheriff Palmer said.
He said some of the boulders that fell on the hikers are as large as cars and weigh hundreds of tons.
The hiking trail is highly used by local area residents, and tourists, which leads to a waterfall. Significant recent rains may have been a contributing factor to the unstable conditions in the area, although the exact cause of this specific slide is not yet known.
The names, ages and hometowns of the victims haven't been released.
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