3 Missing After 'Sea of Logs' Hits Alaska Town

Sitka's fire marshal presumed killed in landslide
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 19, 2015 2:29 AM CDT
Construction workers and emergency crew members look at the damage caused by a landslide on Kramer Drive in Sitka, Alaska.   (James Poulson/The Daily Sitka Sentinel via AP)
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(Newser) – Three men missing following an Alaska landslide are presumed dead and the search will be a "body recovery effort," an official says. A landslide described as a sea of logs, mud, and debris is believed to have trapped the three who were missing from a neighborhood in the Alaska coastal town of Sitka. A Sitka fire spokeswoman says that crews were unable to dig at the site yesterday because of unstable terrain. She adds that the missing men, one of whom is the city fire marshal, are presumed dead and the search will be one of body recovery—a determination based, in part, "from the force of the slide and that kind of impact." The landslides occurred yesterday morning after more than 2 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. One sinkhole also was reported.

A carpenter was working on a nearby home when the slide occurred. "All of a sudden, I heard crackling and crumbling, and then the lights flickered," he tells the Daily Sitka Sentinel. He went outside to investigate and saw "a sea of large logs, mud, more logs and a slurry of muddy debris." The slide destroyed a home about 200 yards above him and damaged another home closer to him. Gov. Bill Walker plans to tour Sitka today to observe the damage. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are missing and all the people affected by the disasters in Sitka today," he said in a statement. (Read more Alaska stories.)

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