bodies of six family members swept away in their van recovered in Houston

Rescuers in Houston say they have recovered the bodies of six family members whose van was swept away in flooding unleashed by Harvey over the weekend.

Manuel and Belia Saldivar and four of their great-grandchildren ranging from six to 16 years in age drowned on Sunday as they were attempting to escape rising waters.

The vehicle became stuck in muddy water and was carried away by the current, according to Rick Saldivar, whose brother Sammy was driving it at the time.

Hurricane Harvey hits Texas, in pictures

Their plight made headlines around the world as the full enormity of Hurricane Harvey revealed itself.

With as much as 50 inches of rain falling around Houston, emergency services had been unable to reach the van until now.

“We have a total confirmed six dead here at the scene inside this van,” Ed Gonzalez, Harris County Sheriff, said after receding floodwaters allowed them to find the vehicle.

A chaplain and medical examiner were at the scene on Wednesday, as family members waited for police to tow the vehicle out.

“They’re very saddened, obviously,” Gonzalez said. “They’re struggling with it.”

The disaster unfolded on Sunday when the rain was its most intense.

Sammy Saldivar was able to climb out of the driver’s seat, but was unable to save his relatives, according to Rick Saldivar’s account.

“The bad thing is he said he kept hearing the kids screaming,” he told television station KHOU. “That’s what he’s hearing in his head over and over.”

Hurricane Harvey

Police officers reached the scene on Sunday but were unable to get to the vehicle, which was already submerged beneath at least four feet of water, said Mr Gonzalez.

So far, 30 people have been reported dead by local media, of which 17 have been confirmed by local authorities.

Officers say they fear the toll will rise rapidly once the waters recede further, opening up previously inaccessible homes and vehicles.

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