Monday, February 12, 2024

Three people, including a girl, were killed and three others were missing after a landslide struck homes in southeast Alaska this week, the authorities said.

The landslide took place at about 9 p.m. Monday local time in Wrangell, Alaska, where “the slide covered and effectively closed Zimovia Highway” at its 11th milepost, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said on Tuesday.

The slide was estimated to be 450 feet wide when it crossed the roadway and smashed into three single-family homes. It remained active through Monday evening and caused road closures, the authorities said.

Wrangell is a coastal community of 2,000 residents in southeast Alaska.

Rescue crews found the body of a girl in the initial search and a drone operator found the bodies of two adults on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

Austin McDaniel, a spokesman for the department, said on Wednesday that one adult and two juveniles were still missing in the area of the landslide. Their ages were not released.

Alaska State Troopers were leading search and rescue efforts with help from other agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Forest Service. Canine teams were also searching the area.

Mr. McDaniel said that crews rescued a woman on Tuesday who was in good condition and undergoing medical care.

Officials asked the public to stay away from the slide area because of unstable slope conditions. People who live nearby have been asked to evacuate.

“This most certainly is a trying time for our community, but as always this little town of ours has banded together and shown quite some resilience,” Mason Villarama, interim borough manager for Wrangell, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy of Alaska issued a disaster declaration in Wrangell and said that he and his wife were “heartbroken by this disaster.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said on social media that he had spoken with the congressional delegation from Alaska about the landslide.

Peter Boyd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Juneau, Alaska, said that in the six hours before the landslide, a total of 1.13 inches of rain fell at the nearby Wrangell Airport.

“It was a very intense period of rainfall, plus the winds around the area were getting gusts up to 70 miles per hour,” he said on Wednesday.

The Weather Service said that more rain was expected to envelop southeastern Alaska by Thursday morning and that widespread rain was also forecast into the weekend.

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