At least 3 dead, multiple others believed missing in landslide

A landslide along a Southeast Alaska highway killed at least one and has left authorities searching for any potentially missing residents early Tuesday morning.
Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 1:30 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2023 at 8:46 PM CST
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WRANGELL, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - At least three people are dead and multiple others are believed to missing following a landslide in Alaska, KTUU reports.

The City and Borough of Wrangell say there is an ongoing search and rescue mission underway due to a landslide Monday night that left debris scattered on the Zimovia Highway. The road runs roughly 14 miles from the town of Wrangell, Alaska, which has a population of just more than 2,000 residents.

Three people are believed to still be missing based on “local knowledge” and reports of missing people, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday. Those three include one adult and two minors.

Alaska State Troopers said three single-family residences are believed to have been swept up in the slide. Of the three homes, two were on the mountainside, and one of those was empty when the slide occurred, according to Alaska State Troopers. A residence on the water is said to have had two adults and three minors in it, including a youngster who was found dead Monday night.

“When they were out there doing the hasty search, they discovered a deceased juvenile female,” AST’s Austin McDaniel explained. “Once the conditions became too dangerous to continue the hasty search, teams pulled back ... Sometime between last night, when the hasty search was paused, to when ground searchers returned, the adult female was found alive.”

The slide occurred just before 9 p.m. on Monday.

Troopers said the woman who was found alive lived in one of the residences on the mountainside of the highway and was on the upper level of the home when the landslide happened. She is said to be in “good” condition, according to troopers, and is receiving medical care.

No other details were shared about the minor who was killed by the slide.

A drone operator found two more victims — both adults — killed by the slide on Tuesday afternoon and were recovered from the slide area in the evening.

According to authorities, a local search and rescue team is working with the Alaska State Trooper, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and city staff.

The city also says it has not begun a “large scale” search operation as the landslide area could still be unstable and volatile. It said a state geologist will need to assess the slide to determine if it’s safe enough to launch full search operations.