1 person killed after landslide destroys homes in Alaska
WRANGELL, Alaska – One person is dead as search and recovery crews continue to scour through debris from a landslide that impacted properties outside of Wrangell, Alaska, on Monday.
Alaska’s Department of Public Safety reported the event occurred along the Zimovia Highway, about 11 miles south of the town of Wrangell in southeast Alaska.
The landslide occurred without warning, and first responders said the ground remains unstable, which could result in additional movement of terrain.
The slide is estimated to be 450 feet wide where it crossed the highway.
First responders said three homes were believed to be damaged in the flow of rocky debris along the Zimovia Highway.
“The body of one deceased individual was located during the hasty search. Multiple individuals are believed to have been within the slide area when the landslide occurred and are believed to be missing,” Alaska’s Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
Heavy precipitation was reported to have fallen over southeast Alaska in the days before the landslide in Wrangell, which was likely responsible for triggering additional events in Hydaburg, Ketchikan and Klawock.
In addition to the heavy rain and snow, winds gusted to over 100 mph, leading to blizzard conditions and power outages on the southeast coast.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said he issued a disaster declaration for Wrangell after hearing about the damage.
Landslides are considered to be common in southeast Alaska, and the U.S. Forest Service has documented thousands of occurrences.
Long-term forecasts show continued storminess for the Gulf of Alaska, with heavy bouts of precipitation, which will likely keep the threat of mudslides and landslides high.