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Body of suspected flood victim found in rural New Mexico

By Jonathan Kaminsky

(Reuters) - The body of an elderly man who went missing during a flash flood was believed found by a hiker in rural western New Mexico, authorities said on Sunday.

New Mexico State Police spokesman Sergeant Emmanuel Gutierrez said it had not yet been confirmed that the body was that of Howard Bassett, 83. But Bassett disappeared a week ago after evacuating the Silver Creek Inn in the nearby town of Mogollon in order to flee the flood.

The corpse was discovered in the same general area where state police had searched for Bassett unsuccessfully last week. It was found surrounded by flood debris Saturday on a sand bar along the San Francisco River, about 175 miles southwest of Albuquerque, authorities said.

Basset's truck had been found earlier, covered in gravel and silt in a creek bed, Gutierrez said.

He said no one else was known to have gone missing during the flood, which washed out the only road in and out of Mogollon.

Floods have ravaged the U.S. Mountain West region over the past two weeks, with one flood-related fatality in neighboring Sierra County and at least seven dead and scores unaccounted for after massive flooding in Colorado.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in Olympia, Washington; Editing by Tom Brown and Eric Beech)

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