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A week after California mudslides, Trump sends condolences in press statement

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Firefighter clears away debris during a search for dead bodies amid the destruction left by a mudslide along U.S. Highway 101 in Montecito, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Nearly a week after horrific mudslides hit California’s Central Coast and killed at least 20 people, President Donald Trump sent his condolences to those affected in his first public statement on the disaster.

The two-sentence statement was released by the White House press secretary on Monday.

“The President has been briefed and will continue to monitor the mudslides in California. The President and First Lady extend their deepest sympathies to the families affected, their appreciation for the first responders saving lives, and their prayers for those who remain missing.”

Trump’s belated response stood in contrast to his repeated statements and tweets of condolences and promises of aid after hurricanes slammed Texas, Louisiana and Florida last year _ all states that, unlike California, backed Trump for president in 2016.

The mudslides’ toll could go higher. Four people remain missing, and authorities said Sunday their focus has gone from search and rescue to recovery.

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