File photo: Destroyed homes are visible in the aftermath of a devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday, Sept. 11, that there have been 23 weather extreme events in America that cost at least $1 billion this year through August, eclipsing the year-long record total of 22 set in 2020.
Reuters : The death toll from last month’s wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui has dropped to 97 and the number of people missing is now 31, Hawaii Governor Josh Green told CNN in an interview on Friday.
Green said last week the death toll was 115 and 66 people were missing.
“The death toll dropped because we have Department of Defense anthropologists who are able to do a lot more advanced genetics.
They were able to make sure we weren’t tragically commingling any of the people we lost,” Green said.
The grassland fire on 8 Aug raced down the base of a volcano sloping into the tourist resort town of Lahaina, destroying or damaging some 2,200 buildings.
The commingling of remains was a particular issue in Lahaina, with some victims believed to have fled with other people or with pets.
Green said the number of people whose whereabouts were unconfirmed — those who have been reported missing and not found among the dead or confirmed safe — now stood at 31.
“So we get these numbers more and more refined, but fewer people have been lost,” he said.
The August 8 blaze levelled the historic royal seat of Lahaina with flames that appeared to have erupted from a downed power line as fierce winds whipped the archipelago.
The fire produced such intense heat that it melted metal and left mounds of ash where houses once stood.
Authorities have come in for criticism over their handling of the disaster, with locals saying they were given no warning of the impending fire.
The head of Maui’s emergency management agency resigned after criticism that warning sirens were not sounded.
There has also been anger over the recovery effort, with officials lashed over what some said was a slow response to finding places to live for the thousands of people left homeless in the tragedy.