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Hawaii Governor says death toll has surpassed 100

Nearly one week after the fire, only four of the dead victims have been identified by forensic experts, Maui County officials said Tuesday.
Last Updated 16 August 2023, 04:28 IST

The death toll in the wildfires that scorched western Maui has risen to 101, Guv Josh Green of Hawaii said Tuesday afternoon. With the survey of the burn areas about one-third complete, officials were still working to identify the remains of those who had died.

President Joe Biden and the first lady will visit the site of the disaster “in the coming weeks,” the governor said, explaining that the president did not want to interfere with recovery efforts. Biden said earlier Tuesday that he would travel to Hawaii “as soon as we can.”

The president’s announcement came after Republican criticism that he was not doing enough following the deadly blaze.

The fire is one of the worst natural disasters in Hawaii’s history, and the nation’s deadliest wildfire since a blaze in northeast Minnesota killed hundreds of people in 1918. In an interview with CNN on Monday, Green said the death toll could still go up significantly, saying it could double in the next 10 days. He had said the day before that the number of missing is believed to be around 1,300. A precise death toll might not be known for weeks.

Nearly one week after the fire, only four of the dead victims have been identified by forensic experts, Maui County officials said Tuesday. Maui County was expected later Tuesday to release the first names of identified victims whose families have been notified. The pace of updates underscores how difficult the process of finding victims is in the aftermath of a fire of this scale.

Lahaina, once the royal capital of Hawaii, was devastated, and some residents ran into the ocean to avoid the heat and flames. Survivors described fleeing for their lives from a fast-moving “total inferno.”

The Maui Emergency Management Agency estimated that it will cost $5.52 billion to rebuild in Maui County.

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(Published 16 August 2023, 04:28 IST)

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