A Wrangell Landslide that ripped down a sopping, heavily forested mountainside in south-east Alaska killed three people, injured a woman and left three other people missing as it smashed into three homes in a remote fishing community, authorities said Tuesday.
Fatal Landslide in Wrangell: Three Bodies Found, Search Continues
During the initial search, rescue crews discovered the body of a young girl. Later on Tuesday, a drone operator found the bodies of two adults. In the aftermath of the disaster, three homes were directly affected by the Wrangell landslide.
To locate those still unaccounted for, authorities utilized a cadaver-sniffing dog and heat-sensing drones. Along the oceanfront, which was covered in debris from the Wrangell landslide, the coast guard and other vessels conducted thorough searches.
The Wrangell landslide, estimated to be approximately 450ft wide, occurred near Wrangell, a small fishing community with a population of just over 2,000 residents. Wrangell is located on an island about 155 miles south of Juneau.
According to Austin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the Alaska state troopers, three adults and two children were reported missing. Unfortunately, a girl was found deceased during a preliminary search on Monday night. The authorities have yet to determine the age of the girl.
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Wrangell Landslide: alaska landslide 2023
Early on Tuesday morning, a brave rescue crew managed to save a woman who was trapped on the upper floor of a house that had been hit by the disaster, according to McDaniel. Thankfully, she is in good condition and is currently receiving medical attention.
The devastating Wrangell landslide left a visible scar on the mountainside, stripping away the lush greenery and replacing it with barren earth. It swept away numerous towering evergreen trees and left behind what seemed to be remnants of homes. McDaniel mentioned that out of the three houses affected, one was unoccupied.
Due to the remote location, phone service seemed to be unavailable for the community. However, officials took to Facebook to inform everyone that a local food bank was accepting donations and a nearby bakery had opened its doors as a gathering place for the community. Wrangell’s Facebook page also expressed their heartfelt condolences and support for those affected by the events of the previous night.
Social Media Reveals Devastating Wrangell Landslide Damage
Social media posts reveal the extent of the damage caused by the Wrangell landslide. The mountainside has been stripped bare by the slide, leaving behind a trail of destruction from the peak all the way to the ocean. The once lush evergreen trees have been wiped out, and remnants of homes can be seen in the aftermath.
The Wrangell landslide has cut off access and power to around 75 homes, and residents have been evacuated by boat to the unaffected part of town. The state emergency management office has reported that a large-scale search and rescue mission is not possible at the moment due to the unstable and hazardous conditions of the site.
A state geologist will need to assess the area first to ensure safety before any further action can be taken. Despite the tragedy, the community remains resilient and determined to find those who are missing. The city employees have been briefed, and a geological expert has arrived to assess the situation. Search and rescue professionals are working in limited areas with the help of cadaver dogs and heat-sensing drones.
Villarma stated that search and rescue professionals have access to certain parts of the slide, albeit in restricted areas. At present, only two professionals with a cadaver dog are able to operate in those regions. Additionally, heat-sensing drones are also being utilized for the operation. The governor of Alaska, Mike Dunleavy, has declared a disaster for Wrangell and expressed his and his wife’s prayers for all those impacted.