State Troopers assuming command on Wrangell landslide

Wrangell, Alaska (KINY) – On November 20, 2023, at 8:51 pm, a large landslide was reported on the Zimovia Highway at mile 11. Emergency responders from the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Wrangell Police Department, Wrangell Fire Department, US Forest Service, Wrangell Search and Rescue, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the US Coast Guard immediately responded to the site. 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 hasty search. 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.

DO NOT ENTER the slide area; the slide has been active throughout the night. Additional landslides are possible in the area. All persons living between mile 11 and the end of the pavement should evacuate into Wrangell. Water taxis are available to help those on the south end navigate to the other side of the slide area. The Zimovia Highway is closed to all highway traffic south of mile 11.

If you know someone is currently missing, please call the Wrangell Police Department at (907) 874-3304 to file a missing persons report.

Additional ground search efforts on the slide have been paused until the slide can be assessed for safety by a geologist. There is a risk of additional landslides in the area, which necessitates this assessment. Crews may use aerial search platforms such as planes, helicopters, and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) drones in search efforts today until the ground search can be resumed. Officials are working on bringing a Southeast Alaska-based geologist into Wrangell today to conduct the assessment. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is bringing in additional personnel and UAS drone equipment from DOT and AST this morning on a chartered aircraft from Juneau.