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1 Dead in Alaska Avalanche

January 27, 2000

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A powerful, half-mile wide avalanche smashed into a home Wednesday, killing a woman, authorities said.

Greg Wilkinson, an Alaska State Trooper spokesman, said the body of Martha Quales, 63, was recovered from the crushed home in Cordova, which was moved 30 feet by the avalanche.

Quales’ housemate, Jerry LeMaster, 50, was found alive by searchers probing the remnants of the snowslide, which occurred shortly before 10 a.m.

LeMaster was still mostly buried hours later, though a space had been excavated to allow him room to breathe.

``Apparently whatever he was under kept him from being crushed,″ Wilkinson said. ``He had no complaints of injuries, and was alert, moving his arms and talking to rescuers.″

Another person was recovered uninjured from a demolished home. Everyone else living in the area, 150 miles southeast of Anchorage, had been accounted for.

A trooper at the scene said more than a dozen buildings were hit by the half-mile-wide avalanche. Many were pushed off their foundations, and several were flattened, Wilkinson said.

Witnesses say the avalanche covered the highway with as much as 15 feet of heavy snow in places.

``It was like an explosion,″ said Dune Lankard, whose home was in the avalanche path. ``Windows started crashing all around and snow was coming in.″

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