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Rock slide deaths at Yosemite National Park lead to closures

Two people died in a rock slide earlier this week at the Yosemite National Park, according to the local county sheriff’s office. 

On Tuesday, the Yosemite National Park announced that the El Portal Road, a continuation of Highway 140 into the Yosemite Valley from El Portal, has been closed due to “significant rockfall.” The entrance was reopened around 6 hours later.

The Mariposa County’s Sheriff Office did not immediately respond to NBC News, but according to the Associated Press, local authorities have identified the victims as Georgios Theocharous, 51 and Ming Yan, 35. Both are a married couple from San Jose.

On Friday evening, the park announced another closure at Big Oak Flat Road, east of Foresta, due to another rockfall incident. 

In the early morning of Dec. 12, Big Oak Flat Road was also closed after being hit by a rockslide, blocking access to Yosemite Valley via Highway 120 from the west. The rockslide resulted in a several-day closure to clear and repair the road.

As of Saturday morning, Big Oak Flat Road remains closed. The Mariposa County’s Sheriff Office has yet to respond if there are any reports of fatalities or injuries to Friday’s rockslide.

According to the Yosemite National Park, although uncommon, the Yosemite Valley can experience numerous rockfalls each year. In 2021, the park recorded 47 rockfalls in the valley.

According to the U.S. National Park Service, the Yosemite National Park welcomed 3.3 million visitors in 2021, making it one out of the 25 most visited national parks in the nation.

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