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Mudslides isolate 300 tourists in Alaska national park

Associated Press

Denali National Park, Alaska – Three hundred tourists are stranded in a national park in Alaska after heavy rains triggered mudslides and caused excess water from a culvert to damage a road.

The superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve closed Denali Park Road to all traffic at mile 30 on Friday. The road is the only one inside the vast park.

This May 27, 2016, photo shows a tourist bus near Polychome Pass on the only road inside Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Park officials on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, closed the park road at Mile 30 of the 92-mile road after a culvert washout and several mudslides in the area surrounding Polychome Pass and Eielson Visitor Center created unsafe conditions.

The National Park Service said in a news release it anticipates reopening the road Saturday.

But on Friday evening, a park official said the road could re-open sooner.

“The main area they’re focusing on is Polychrome Pass,” Paul Ollig, acting public information officer, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “We are confident conditions are improving, and we should be able to get a lane clear this evening to get buses out of Toklat and evacuated through.”

The park service says officials are working to ensure the safety and comfort of those effected. Shuttle buses are gathering people at the Toklat Rest Area temporarily while road crews continue to address hazard areas.

Similar debris flows led to daylong traffic restrictions last week. Continued heavy rains since kept the road and surrounding tundra saturated with water.