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Alaska landslide: Crews alter search strategy as 3 remain missing

The massive landslide — which is estimated to be 450 feet wide — is responsible for the deaths of three people in a remote coastal fishing community.
Alaska landslide: Crews alter search strategy as 3 remain missing
Posted at 10:31 AM, Nov 24, 2023

Rescue crews in Alaska are continuing to search for three people who are still missing after a massive landslide Monday left three people dead and injured a fourth in a remote coastal fishing community. However, Alaska Department of Public Safety spokesperson Austin McDaniel says their strategy has turned from an active search to a reactive one.

"During active search periods we have searchers in the field meticulously looking for missing persons," McDaniel told the Associated Press. "During reactive searches, search teams are not actively in the field but will react to new information and then actively search that area supported by the new information."

The swath of destruction was estimated to be about 450 feet wide and engulfed multiple homes in the island community of Wrangell, Alaska, about 155 miles south of the state capital of Juneau. The slide sent a swath of dirt and debris down a mountainside and onto a highway, blocking dozens of homes from accessing the town.

In the meantime, boats are being used to provide residents with food, water, fuel, and other essential supplies. Water taxis are also being provided to any residents seeking to evacuate the area, and a local church has offered food and lodging for those who are displaced. 

McDaniel said teams have been using drones, helicopters, planes and search dogs to survey the wreckage for the two children and one adult who remain missing. Crews have also begun methodically clearing debris from the highway, hoping to turn up any clue on the missing people's whereabouts. 

During an initial search, Alaska State Troopers said rescue crews recovered the body of a girl before the mission was suspended due to unstable conditions. Then on Tuesday, a drone operator discovered the bodies of two adults, which were recovered from the debris.

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