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At least 1 dead, 5 missing after landslide hits remote Alaskan town

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At least 1 dead, 5 missing after landslide hits remote Alaskan town

One person was found dead and five others remain missing after a landslide struck the remote Alaskan town of Wrangell on Monday night, authorities said.

Three single-family homes were in the path of the landslide when it occurred at about 9 p.m. Monday, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation.

Responding search personnel found one girl dead, Alaska State Troopers said at a news conference, and five people who were believed to be in the path of the landslide are still missing.

The slide was estimated to be about 450 feet wide at the point that it crossed a local highway, the state transportation department reported.

The slide remained active as of Tuesday afternoon, according to state troopers, and additional landslides are still possible. All residents in the area were asked to evacuate.

At least one dead, several missing after landslide in remote Alaskan town
A landslide in Wrangell, Alaska. Nov. 21, 2023. 

Alaska Department of Transportation

Phone service appeared to be down for the remote community, but officials posted on Facebook that a local food bank was accepting donations and offered a community gathering place at a local bakery. 

“Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with those suffering due to last night’s events,” officials wrote on Wrangell’s Facebook page.

State troopers were leading search and rescue efforts with the assistance of multiple agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Forest Service.

Wrangell is a coastal village located in southeast Alaska, with a population of just over 2,000, according to the latest census data.

State troopers urged people caught on the other side of the slide, away from Wrangell, to evacuate by water taxi. A shelter has been established.

Wrangell received about 2 inches of rain between 1 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday, with wind gusts up to 60 mph at higher elevations, said Aaron Jacobs, a hydrologist and meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Juneau.

It was part of a strong storm system that moved through southeast Alaska bringing heavy snow in places and blizzard-like conditions to Juneau — and rainfall with minor flooding to areas further south. Landslides also were reported in the Ketchikan area and on Prince of Wales Island, he said.

Another storm system is expected in the Wrangell area late Wednesday into Thursday.

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