Two bodies found in landslide debris in a southeast Alaska town have been identified as two brothers who were reported missing in an area covered with tons of logs and muck, and a search was underway Friday for a city building official who also is believed to be buried in the same debris.
Searchers found one body near the site on Wednesday night, but it has not had been identified, Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told the newspaper.
Two bodies have been recovered in or near a home that was under construction.
Three men were believed to have been killed when the landslide slammed into a construction site in Sitka, Alaska, on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, further rescue and recovery at the site of the landslide have been hindered by relentless rain, and by the fact that the steep ground has been hard to stabilize.
Workers cleared 25 yards of the slide Wednesday, working from the less risky uphill side, but couldn’t even provide an estimate of its total size. That same team has determined that the slide began at an elevation of 1,400 feet up Harbor Mountain.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker assesses the extent of damages caused by landslides in Sitka during an overflight aboard a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. Heavy equipment was brought into the site to help divert that water, but the efforts for doing this have been slow, due to the condition of the terrain.
Police said the removed material will be segregated so it can be researched if necessary.
Stortz, a building official, was reportedly looking into the drainage system in the area, while the brothers were painting a home that was demolished in the slide. “We were standing around admiring some of the work that had been done”, Longtin said. David Longtin was with Stortz when they heard a sound. Longtin said he saw the look of concern on Stortz’s face, and all ran, but not necessarily all in the same direction.
“Most of us don’t have a lot of hope”, he said earlier in the day.
“I was thinking about my wife and daughter and wanting to stay alive”, he said. Some other homes in the area were evacuated, but Peterson did not know how many residences or people were affected.
“Those guys had hearts of gold”, said Rivera.
The mud, however, has blocked all access to water mains in the area, and leaks continued to liquefy the mud. But the rain is expected over a longer stretch of time than Tuesday’s downpour, limiting the risk of more landslides.