3 unaccounted for in Alaska landslide

Story highlights

  • Governor will visit city on Wednesday
  • Landslides preceded by heavy rain

(CNN)Three people were unaccounted for Tuesday after a landslide struck a new-home development outside a city in the Alaska panhandle, authorities said.

The three were working in the housing development when heavy rains caused the landslide, authorities said.
"We are not able to do anything on the ground as far as search and rescue because the ground is so unstable," Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt said. " A significant part of the hillside has come down. Homeland Security is coming in to assess the situation. ... We are sitting tight right now because it's so unstable, and it's continuing to rain."
    One house was destroyed and another was heavily damaged, the city website said. A state of emergency was declared for the city and borough.
    Sara Peterson, the city's public information officer, said three landslides struck the coastal city of about 9,000 people. The city has ordered the evacuation of 20 to 30 homes, she said.
    Gov. Bill Walker planned to visit Sitka on Wednesday.
    "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are missing and all the people affected by the disasters in Sitka today," Walker said. "Thank you to all the volunteers and emergency responders from the Sitka police and fire departments who are working so hard to protect the lives and property of Alaskans."