State authorities have said six people are missing after mudslides struck a southeast Alaskan town, amid torrential rain storms.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Public Safety said mudslides destroyed four houses in Haines, which has seen the heaviest rain, and that six people were reportedly missing.
Several mudslides were said to have occurred in the borough, which is home to around 2,500 people.
US Coast Guard commander Stephen White said on Wednesday that “we are aware that damage has occurred in the town of Haines following the report of multiple landslides in the borough.
“The scope of the damage is unknown at this time but we are proactively moving several assets and personnel to provide assistance to local first responders and the residents who may have been impacted by the landslides.”
Haines Borough Mayor Douglas Olerud told the Associated Press that a search and rescue attempt would resume on Thursday.
Wednesday’s conditions would not allow rescue teams to launch a US Coast Guard helicopter in the search, which also includes the Alaska National Guard and Alaska State Troopers.
“The soil isn’t stable enough right now,” said Mr Olerud, who added that the state would provide additional resources for the search, and to residents, on Thursday.
“Prayers help. We can always take prayers. Those always work. We need a lot of those right now,” the mayor added.
I just talked with Mayor Olerud of Haines & his team about the flooding & landslides in their community. Every state resource will be made available to the people of Haines in their time of need. https://t.co/r3Mj7VXbZN
— Governor Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) December 3, 2020
Around 30 people were evacuated, and emergency response crews rescued others, Mr Olerud told the AP.
Alaska’s governor, Mike Dunleavy, said in a statement that his thoughts and prayers were with those in Haines.
“The Emergency Operations Center is monitoring the situation and assets from the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska National Guard are being mobilised to assist with search and rescue and recovery efforts in Haines," said Mr Dunleavy.
Those who went missing on Wednesday were in the Beach Road area, where the largest slide — about 600 feet (183 meters) wide — came down.
About 9 feet (2.7 meters) of mud and trees cover the area, according to the troopers, while a flash flood warning was in effect until late Wednesday.