WRANGELL, Alaska – The death toll from a landslide that buried homes and a highway outside of Wrangell, Alaska, in November has risen to five after officials said crews recovered the body of a 65-year-old from the debris.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety has identified the victims as:
Timothy Heller, 40
Beth Heller, 36
Mara Heller, 16
Kara Heller, 11
Otto Florschutz, 65
One person remains missing, and they have been identified as:
Derek Heller, 12
The agency reported that the deadly landslide occurred along the Zimovia Highway, about 11 miles south of Wrangell in southeastern Alaska, on Nov. 20. The slide was estimated to be 450 feet wide where it crossed the highway.
The landslide occurred without warning, and first responders said the ground remained unstable, which could result in additional movement.
First responders said three homes were believed to be damaged in the flow of rocky debris along the Zimovia Highway.
Heavy precipitation from an atmospheric river was reported over southeastern Alaska in the days before the landslide in Wrangell, which was likely responsible for triggering additional events in Hydaburg, Ketchikan and Klawock.
"The collaborative efforts displayed by the multiple organizations involved in the response efforts for this disaster reflect how the Alaskan people come together to help each other in times of need," Captain Darwin Jensen, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Southeast Alaska, said in a statement. "We offer our deepest condolences to all those involved in this terrible tragedy, and continue to search for the missing."
Landslides are considered common in southeastern Alaska, and the U.S. Forest Service has documented thousands of occurrences.
Original article source: Fifth victim pulled from debris of Alaska landslide; child still missing