The bodies were found near Santa Barbara as 500 rescuers using search dogs, helicopters and thermal-imaging equipment dug through waist-deep mud for victims or survivors of the mudslides, triggered by a heavy downpour early on Tuesday on hillsides that were largely denuded by raging wildfires last month, making them vunerable to massive mud and debris slides.
Three more people were rescued from the debris trail on Wednesday.
"We realize this is going to be a long and difficult journey for all of us," said Santa Barbara County's sheriff, Bill Brown.
The waves of mud that roared through foothills and valleys sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest also destroyed 100 family homes, damaged hundreds of other buildings and injured 28 people.
And a major north-south highway, Route 101, will not be reopening until next week.