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Hawaii revises down wildfire death toll


Crosses honoring victims killed in a recent wildfire are displayed along the Lahaina Bypass in Lahaina, Hawaii, August 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles, United States — The number of people believed to have died in the wildfire that ravaged part of Hawaii last month fell Friday as authorities revised their figures.

State Gov. Josh Green said scientists sorting through the remains now estimate that 97 people died in Lahaina, up from a previous official toll of 115.

“That number went down slightly because the Department of Defense and all of their physical anthropologists were able to help us better discern who was in the cars or in the houses,” Green said in a Facebook video.

“So, thank God, fewer people died. »

Green gave no details about the confusion, but the aftermath of large-scale disasters often leads to repeated revisions to the numbers.

The mixing of remains has been a particular problem in Lahaina, with some victims apparently fleeing with other people or pets.

Green said the number of people whose fate has not been confirmed – those who were reported missing and have not been found among the dead or confirmed safe – now stands at 31.

“So we are refining these numbers more and more, but fewer people have been lost,” he said.

The Aug. 8 fire razed the historic royal seat of Lahaina with flames that appeared to come from a downed power line as strong winds whipped the archipelago. The fire produced such intense heat that it melted metal and left mounds of ash where homes once stood.

Authorities have been criticized for their handling of the disaster, with residents saying they were not warned of the impending fire.

The head of Maui’s emergency management agency has resigned after criticism that warning sirens failed to sound.

There has also been anger over rebuilding efforts, with officials lashing out at what some said was a slow pace in finding housing for the thousands left homeless following the tragedy.


Hawaii fire toll reaches 110; schools, reopening of roads

Explained: How did the Hawaii wildfires start? What to know about the Maui and Big Island fires

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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