Title: Maui Wildfires Death Toll Rises to 106, Identification Process Underway
Subtitle: Genetics team and search and rescue efforts aid in identifying victims as communities begin recovery
Maui, Hawaii – The devastating wildfires that started on August 8 in the historic parts of Lahaina, western Maui, have claimed the lives of 106 individuals, and authorities fear the death toll may still rise as search efforts continue. The process of identifying the victims, which is expected to take weeks, has been hampered by the extensive damage caused by the fires.
To aid in the identification process, a genetics team has been brought in to develop DNA profiles from the remains. By comparing these profiles to DNA samples provided by family members of the missing, authorities hope to identify the deceased. So far, only five of the 106 victims have been identified, with 41 DNA samples submitted by concerned relatives.
The search and rescue operation is ongoing, with approximately 185 workers and 20 cadaver dogs tirelessly combing through the ashes of the destroyed homes and businesses. The arduous task involves sifting through debris to locate any human remains, adding to the distressing nature of the operation.
In response to this tragedy, President Biden has pledged federal assistance for recovery and rebuilding efforts in Hawaii. He, along with the first lady, plans to visit Maui on Monday to assess the situation firsthand.
Displaced residents have been offered temporary accommodations in hotel rooms and Airbnbs, thanks to generous donations and available spaces. The community has come together to support those affected by the fires, helping to ease the burden during this difficult time.
As communities begin to rebuild, it is essential to address issues relating to the wildfires. Hawaii’s attorney general will lead a review of decisions made during the response to the fires, including the lack of activation of sirens and reports of dry fire hydrants. Additionally, a lawsuit has been filed against Hawaiian Electric, alleging that blown power lines contributed to the spread and destruction of the wildfires.
Residents in parts of Lahaina and Upper Kula areas have been advised against drinking or boiling water due to a water advisory. Authorities are closely monitoring the situation, ensuring the safety and well-being of affected communities.
Despite these challenges, progress has been made in containing the fires. The Lahaina fire is currently 85% contained, while the Kula fire is 60% contained. Efforts to suppress the flames continue, aiming to fully extinguish the wildfire threat and prevent further devastation.
Among the stories of survival, Tee Dang and her family faced a terrifying ordeal as cars around them caught fire. They found refuge in the ocean before being rescued by local residents. Ross Hart, a Kula resident, fought the flames for 12 hours before realizing he needed to evacuate to safety.
The wildfires in Maui have shaken the community to its core, leaving behind a trail of destruction and loss. However, amidst the tragedy, the determination to recover and rebuild is unwavering. The efforts of search and rescue teams, as well as the assistance promised by President Biden, bring hope to a community ravaged by this unprecedented event.