WRANGELL, Alaska – One person is dead as search and recovery teams continue to sift through debris from a landslide that impacted properties outside Wrangell, Alaska, on Monday.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety reported that the event occurred along 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 remained unstable, which could lead to further ground movement.
The slide is estimated to be 450 feet wide where it crossed the highway.
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First responders said three homes were reported damaged by rock debris flow along Zimovia Highway.
“The body of a deceased person was found during hurried searches. Several people were likely in the landslide area when the landslide occurred and are believed to be missing,” the Security Ministry said Alaska Public Service in a statement.
Heavy precipitation was reported to have fallen across Southeast Alaska in the days leading up to the Wrangell landslide, likely triggering other events in Hydaburg, Ketchikan and Klawock.
In addition to heavy rain and snow, winds gusted to more than 100 mph, bringing blizzards and power outages to the southeast coast.
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Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he issued a disaster declaration for Wrangell after hearing about the damage.
Landslides are considered common in southeast Alaska, and the U.S. Forest Service has documented thousands of them.
Long-range forecasts show continued storms in the Gulf of Alaska, with heavy precipitation, which will likely keep the threat of mudslides and landslides high.