A landslide occurred near Rangel on Monday night.
At least one person has died and five are missing following a “massive landslide” in Alaska, officials said.
The landslide occurred just before 9 p.m. local time Monday on the Jimovia Highway at mile marker 11 near the Alaska Panhandle town of Rangel, officials said.
According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety, three homes were determined to be directly in the path of the landslide — two homes on the hillside and one in the watershed of the highway –. One of the hillside homes was unoccupied at the time, officials said.
Emergency responders from the Wrangell Police and Fire Departments, Alaska Wildlife Troopers and other agencies immediately responded and “began an emergency search for survivors,” according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. Report.
According to Austin McDaniel, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, the body of a female juvenile was found in a waterside home during a search Monday night.
Five people — three adults and two boys — are believed to be missing, McDaniel said. They included two adults and two minors from the water house.
As of Tuesday afternoon’s press conference, search and rescue operations were ongoing.
A woman who lived on the hillside of the highway was rescued Tuesday morning and is in good condition, McDaniel said.
Alaska State Troopers are leading search and rescue efforts. The ground search was temporarily suspended Tuesday because of the hazardous conditions, although a geologist removed parts of the slide to begin ground searches, McDaniel said.
The U.S. Coast Guard is also conducting water searches, and a drone operator is assisting in the search, officials said.
Officials have advised no one to enter the slide area as there is a possibility of further landslides. Residents of the area have been urged to evacuate within Wrangell. About 20 to 30 people were mostly evacuated, officials said.
Jimovia Highway is closed to traffic south of mile marker 6.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has declared a state disaster for the landslide.
“We are giving Wrangel every resource in our state,” Dunleavy said in a statement.
Officials said a landslide may have occurred at a height of 500 feet on the highway.
This type of landslide — known as a debris flow — can have steep slopes throughout Southeast Alaska, according to Barrett Salisbury, a geologist with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
Debris runoff occurs when soil becomes saturated and unable to sustain itself, typically containing water, soil, rocks, trees and other debris, he said.
“They are particularly destructive and they can travel at about 35 mph,” Salisbury told reporters.
Days of heavy rain or short periods of “high intensity rain” increase the risk of landslides, he said.