Shifting permafrost threatens Alaska village's new airport

    BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Tununak Airport near Bethel is facing a catastrophic problem, as airlines are refusing to land there due to the village's shifting permafrost.

    KYUK-AM reports that the airport shut down on Thursday. Its runway is buckling due to changes in the area's permafrost.

    Both Ravn Alaska and Grant Aviation state the runway is too dangerous for pilots to land on.

    Tununak, like most Alaska communities, relies on air travel for many goods and services.

    Gordon Tester, Tununak's school principal, says community members started asking questions when they stopped seeing planes fly in. He says the village stores' shelves have been pretty much empty.

    Community members have resorted to driving across the tundra with all-terrain vehicles to pick up groceries and mail in Toksook Bay.

    The airport opened about a year ago and cost $19 million.

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