Maui wildfire death toll drops to 97 after DNA analysis


WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Authorities in Hawaii have reduced the death toll from Maui’s deadly wildfires to at least 97 people.

Officials had previously said they believed at least 115 people had died in the fires, but further testing showed they had multiple DNA samples from some of those who died.

John Byrd, head of a forensic laboratory at the US Department of Defense, said during a press conference on Friday afternoon that the current death toll should be considered minimal because the number of victims could potentially rise.

Determining the death toll in the Aug. 8 wildfires in Lahaina has been particularly complicated because of the damage caused by the fire and the chaos as people tried to escape, officials said. In some cases, animal remains were accidentally collected along with human remains.

So far, 74 of the deceased have been positively identified, said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier.

The Lahaina Fire is that deadliest in the US in more than a century.

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