Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) said the death toll from the devastating Maui wildfires is likely to rise from 99 in the coming days, but search efforts will take time as officials try to clear the homes not to destroy.
Nearly 500 federal emergency services are currently deployed on the island of Maui, where the historic city of Lahaina was destroyed last week in what was already the deadliest wildfire in the United States in over a century. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed more than 140 search and rescue team members who have integrated into the Maui Fire Department.
Maui County said so As of Tuesday morningThe official death toll from the fire was 99, of which four have been identified. Green said he believes the number will increase as search efforts continue.
“We are prepared for many tragic stories” he told “CBS Mornings” On Monday. “You’ll probably find 10 to 20 people a day until they’re done. And it will probably take 10 days. It’s really impossible to guess.”
As of Tuesday morning, officers have searched about 32% of the affected area. The governor said at a news conference that the search effort will take “a lot of time” because officers who search all areas in Lahaina “have to be very careful not to disturb any of the homes there.”
“People who went to Lahaina because they really wanted to see it should be aware that they’re most likely walking on ‘iwi,'” Green said, using the Hawaiian word for ‘bone’.
The Maui fires started early August 8 and broke out overnight in the Highlands and Kihei. A fire broke out in the Lahaina area several hours later, but the fire department said the blaze was contained. Later that day, strong winds from a hurricane south of the Hawaiian Islands exacerbated the fire, causing the fire to sweep through the city. The residents had to decide in a split second whether they wanted to flee. Some drove through the smoke while others jumped into the sea.
The Lahaina fire destroyed at least 2,200 buildings — about 1,500 homes — and burned over 2,100 acres. No fatalities were reported in the Kula and Upcountry fires.
On Monday, Green addressed locals’ fears Foreign buyers will parachute to build hotels and other property in the centuries-old city that once served as the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
“I actually reached out to our attorney general to explore options for a moratorium on the sale of damaged or destroyed properties,” Green said. who the Honolulu Civil Beat said he has made housing construction a priority of his administration.
“Also, I want to warn people that it’s going to be a very long time before any growth or housing can be built and that you’ll be pretty ill-informed if you try to steal land from our people and then build here.”
President Joe Biden on Tuesday described the work of the search teams as “arduous” and “nerve-wracking”. The President said he and First Lady Jill Biden wanted to travel to Hawaii “as soon as possible” to view the devastation.
“I don’t want to get in the way. I’ve been to too many disaster areas,” he said. “But I want to go and make sure we have everything they need. I want to make sure we don’t disrupt ongoing recovery efforts.”