Update: The four missing children in Nunam Iqua have been found, but are fighting severe hypothermia. This is according to an Alaska State Trooper report that says the children were found approximately 18 miles south of Nunam Iqua at around 4:25 p.m. on Feb. 3 by ground searchers. The report says that the U.S. Coast Guard then arrived at the location by helicopter, and transported the four children to Bethel to receive treatment for their hypothermia at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Center.
Alaska State Troopers led the search effort. AST Communications Director Megan Peters says that 15 teams from neighboring villages looked for the missing children on the ground.
Peters said that the U.S. Coast Guard was the only group who took the search to the sky. That included an HC-130 airplane crew from Kodiak and a MH-60 helicopter from Cold Bay, according to U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer Melissa McKenzie.
Original Story: Four young children are missing from the lower Yukon village of Nunam Iqua. They’re siblings; Alaska State Troopers identified them as Christopher Johnson, 14, Frank Johnson, 8, Ethan Camille, 7, and Trey Camille, 2. According to Nunam Iqua Tribal Council president Edward Adams Sr., the group went missing around 1 p.m. on Feb. 2, when they drove towards the dump on snowmachine and never came back.
Adams says that the dump is 500 feet from town, but a ground storm hit right when the children left, which likely made it difficult for the children to see where they were going.
“Somehow, they didn’t know which way to come back into town,” Adams said.
He says that the oldest child should have received training to hide behind a snowbank during storms.
“I hope that the 14-year-old has done that,” Adams said.
Local groups from Nunam Iqua, Emmonak, and Alakanuk went looking for the kids after they went missing on Sunday, and resumed Monday morning. The Army National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard have also activated helicopters to participate in the search.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the lower Yukon River delta. The warning took effect the morning of Feb. 3, and remains in place until 6 a.m. on Feb. 4. Winds forcast to gust up to 40 miles per hour could reduce visibility by blowing and drifting snow. Snowfall of 3 to 7 inches is expected.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the four children were found five miles southeast of Nunam Iqua and were returned home uninjured. That is incorrect. They were found 18 miles south of Nunam Iqua and have been transported to Bethel for treatment of severe hypothermia.