KAHULUI, Hawaii – Recovery crew in Hawaii are likely to find between 10 and 20 more victims a day, the state’s governor has said – meaning the toll from the deadliest United States wildfire in a century is expected to rise sharply.
At least 96 people are already confirmed to have died, but Governor Josh Green said emergency responders with cadaver dogs will need more than a week to work their way through hundreds of homes and burned vehicles in hard-hit Lahaina.
“There are more fatalities that will come,” he told CBS in an interview that aired on Monday.
He added: “They will find 10 to 20 people per day probably until they finish. And it’s probably going to take 10 days. It’s impossible to guess, really.”
The historic coastal town of Lahaina on the island of Maui was almost destroyed by the fast-moving inferno last week, with survivors saying there had been no warning.
With some cell phone communications now restored, residents have been able to connect with family and friends, and the number of people still missing has been reduced from more than 2,000 to around 1,300, said Mr Green.
“Our hearts will break beyond repair, perhaps, if that means that many more dead. None of us think that, but we are prepared for many tragic stories,” he said.
The town, which served as the Hawaiian kingdom’s capital in the early 19th century, was home to around 12,000 residents, as well as a bustling tourist street packed with shops and restaurants.
Now, “there’s nothing to see except full devastation”, said Mr Green, who has visited the smouldering streets of rubble and ash multiple times.
The intensity of the fire and scale of the destruction have made identification of human remains difficult.
The police are encouraging those with missing relatives to give DNA samples that might speed up the process.
“The remains we’re finding are from a fire that melted metal,” said the Maui Police Chief John Pelletier. “When we pick up the remains… they fall apart.”
https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/hawaii-s-recovery-crew-likely-to-find-10-to-20-more-victims-a-day-governor Hawaii’s recovery crew likely to find ‘10 to 20’ more victims a day: Governor