(NaturalNews) The island of Whidbey near Seattle, Washington, has been active lately, but not in the healthy, get-out-and-move sense. Residents living on the island, which is the fourth largest in the contiguous United States, were shaken recently when a massive landslide destroyed at least one home and put several others at serious risk.
According to the Washington Post, the landslide, which took place on March 27, displaced 200,000 cubic yards of earth on the western side of the island, or the equivalent of about 40,000 dump truck loads of dirt. In its immediate aftermath, at least four additional houses were put under evacuation orders, and another 30 or so were damaged or made inaccessible by the earth shift.
Early reports indicate that neighbors heard a loud booming sound that resembled thunder around 4:15 am the morning of the landslide. Not long after, a huge mass of land with enough mass to fill a dozen football stadiums plunged into Puget Sound, raising the beach on the side where it fell by about 30 feet compared to its previous shoreline.
"The road's been cut off, the power's been cut off and the water's been cut off to the homes on the beach," said Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, as quoted by the Seattle Times. Adding to this, Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin told reporters that Driftwood Drive, which services the stretch of homes near the epicenter of the landslide, will be "closed for the foreseeable future."
"We're talking about a huge, huge section of road that's completely gone," added Hartin about the situation.
Though the area is known for having smaller landslides from time to time, this most recent slide was devastatingly large, according to experts. It is also unlikely to be the last, especially as landslides, sinkholes, earthquakes, and other major earth shifts appear to be increasing both in frequency and intensity all across the globe, including off the Washington coast.
"We want to make sure the state does whatever it can to figure out what actually happened here," said Washington Governor Jay Inslee following the event. "It's a very interesting, unique event. For two reasons -- one, to understand it for insurance purposes, and second, to understand it to see if we can avoid risk."
A preliminary report issued by geologists from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has revealed that Whidbey Island and the surrounding area may be part of a vast landslide complex that has been around and active for thousands of years. At the current time, residents in direct proximity to the slide remain evacuated, while others are having to use an alternate, makeshift gravel road to access their homes.