After heavy rains triggered landslides that buried homes under several feet of earth, six people were missing in Southeastern Alaska on Wednesday, according to state authorities.
According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety, the landslides devastated at least four homes in Haines, Alaska, which is about 90 miles north of the state capital, Juneau, and is home to about 2,500 residents.
According to the agency, which said it had suspended rescue operations on Wednesday evening because of rumbling, rocky terrain, nine feet of mud and trees covered one section of Haines.
Rescue operations were scheduled to resume on Thursday morning, the department said when a helicopter carrying medicine, search staff and dogs was scheduled to arrive in Haines. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said the State Emergency Operations Center was coordinating the response and mobilising search-and-rescue teams “My emergency response team and I are monitoring the natural disaster unfolding in Haines & the broader Southeast,” said Governer Dunleavy on his Twitter
The mudslides were caused by a storm system that dropped eight inches of rain on Tuesday and another three or four inches of rain on Wednesday, said Douglas Olerud, the mayor of Haines.“Everybody is in awe of the devastation and everybody is really busy helping each other,” he said on Wednesday night. “We’re praying we have a happy ending and we’re able to find everybody alive.”Governer Olerud added
He said severe floods occurred because drainage ditches had already been plugged from a recent storm of around two or three feet of snow in Haines.
On Tuesday, Haines was struck by a series of minor mudslides and on Wednesday a large mudslide crushed houses, he added. There were about 30 people rescued by sea, he added.Mr. Olerud said he had talked to Mr. Dunleavy and other state officials on Wednesday about the immediate need for help.
A helicopter crew was on its way to Haines from Air Station Sitka, and the crews of two cutters, Liberty and Anacapa, were ordered to prepare to sail to Haines for additional assistance, the Coast Guard reported. Also on its way from Juneau was a 45-foot Coast Guard transport.