The search for at least six missing people ended on Wednesday night after torrential rains caused avalanches, landslides and floods in southeastern Alaska, according to reports.
The largest landslide – about 600 feet – occurred in Haynes, about 90 miles northwest of Juneau, earlier in the afternoon, killing about 30 people. As of Wednesday night, Alaska state forces said four homes had been destroyed and six people were missing.
“There are about nine feet of mud and trees that cover the area,” Troopers said. “SAR (search and rescue) operations have been suspended for the evening due to crumbling on unstable ground.”
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Search and rescue efforts continued into the night. Rescue teams will leave for Haynes on Thursday morning by helicopter from the Army Guard to help coordinate SAR efforts and “provide valuable resources,”
Heavy turbulence prevented the Garda helicopter from conducting operations on Wednesday.
Hines Mayor Borrow Douglas Olerud said the area was extensively damaged, along with smaller landslides in the community of about 2,000 people.
“We have extreme flooding in some of the houses. We have some that have changed on their basis. We have several houses that were completely destroyed, “Olerud said.
The National Weather Service said Wednesday afternoon that 4 to 8 inches of rain fell during the storm in the Haynes area. Rapid flood monitoring was in effect for Haines and the surrounding area and an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain were possible until early Thursday morning, according to the NWS.
Olerud added that the rain had affected efforts to reach some areas affected by slides and floods.
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Earlier on Wednesday, Coast Guard officials said they were preparing to provide emergency assistance to residents.
“At this point, we are aware that damage has occurred in the city of Haynes following the announcement of multiple landslides in the area,” said Captain Stephen White, commander of the Juno Coast Guard. “The extent of the damage is currently unknown, but we are actively relocating several assets and staff to help local first aid and residents who may have been affected by the landslides.”
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“Prayers help. We can always accept prayers. These always work. We need a lot of them right now, “Olerud added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.