The Latest: Business partner of brothers hopes they survived

AP News
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Posted: Aug 19, 2015 6:47 PM
The Latest: Business partner of brothers hopes they survived

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The latest on the deadly landslide in Sitka, Alaska (all times local).

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2:30 p.m.

A business partner of two brothers believed killed in a landslide in the southeast Alaska town of Sitka says he's holding out hope that they are alive.

Ramon Hernandez says Elmer and Ulises Diaz are partners with him in Four Points Painting, a painting and drywall contractor in Sitka.

The brothers and city building inspector William Stortz are believed to be buried under tons of logs and mud at a home construction site after the landslide crashed into the site Tuesday.

Hernandez says the brothers are longtime residents who love playing basketball and are very close to each other. The brothers' parents also live in Sitka.

Hernandez says he is waiting for a phone call with good news that the brothers survived.

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1:15 p.m.

Authorities haven't been able to stabilize debris from a landslide to begin searching for three men believed to be buried under tons of logs and mud at a construction site in a southeast Alaska town.

State emergency response spokesman Jeremy Zidek said Wednesday that crews in Sitka unsuccessfully tried to stabilize the ground after the slide crashed into the site Tuesday. They tried using heavy equipment to divert stream water washing over the debris.

Zidek says two geologists are reviewing the area to see how responders can safely begin searching for the missing men, identified as city building inspector William Stortz and brothers Elmer and Ulises Diaz.

Cloud cover also slowed the effort by preventing an aerial view of conditions above the slide.

Gov. Bill Walker is touring the area Wednesday to see the damage from six landslides that followed 2 1/2 inches of rainfall in 24 hours.

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9:30 a.m.

The instability of landslide debris is delaying a search for three men believed to be dead after they were buried at a construction site in a rain-saturated Alaska coastal town.

State emergency response spokesman Jeremy Zidek said Wednesday the plan is for crews in Sitka to stabilize the ground by using heavy equipment to clear a ditch to divert stream water washing over the debris.

City officials have identified the three missing people as city building inspector William Stortz and brothers Elmer and Ulises Diaz.

Gov. Bill Walker is touring the slide area in a Coast Guard helicopter. A geologist is expected on-scene later in the day.

No other injuries have been reported after six landslides crashed into different parts of the city Tuesday after 2 1/2 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.