The large landslide hit the residences near to the city of Wrangell at around 9pm local time on Monday. Members of various emergency services responded.
“A preliminary survey determined that three single-family residences were directly in the path of the landslide. The first responders started a hasty search to look for survivors. The body of one deceased individual was located during the search,” a statement from the Alaska State Troopers said.
“Multiple individuals are believed to have been within the slide area when the landslide occurred and are believed to be missing.”
The Alaska State Troopers have assumed command of the search and rescue effort. The force said the area around the landlside “continues to be active” and additional slides were possible.
Accordint to uinterium boroough manager Mason Villarma, the main slide measures about 200 feet long.
All residents living between mile 11 and the end of the pavement are being asked to evacuate, with water taxis were available to ferry people on the south end of the road out of the area, troopers said.
Additional ground search efforts on the slide have been paused until the slide can be assessed for safety by a geologist.
A post by the City and Borough of Wrangell said its own local search and rescue team was working with the state troopers, as well as local contractors and various other agencies in a “concerted effort to sift through and clear debris”.
“A large-scale search and rescue effort cannot be done at this time as the site is extremely hazardous and unstable,” the post read.
It added that all calls about missing people should be made to the Wrangell Police Department, and that periodic updates would be made.
The Wrangell parks and recreation department announced that the community center and pool were opened to the public Tuesday to provide showers, a kitchen, and a warm, dry place for community members.
“Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with those suffering due to last night’s events,” department director Lucy Robinson wrote in a Facebook post.
About two and a half inches of rain had fallen in Wrangell over a three-day period, according to the National Weather Service. According to Anchorafe Daily News heavy rainfall has caused landslides previously in the southeast area.