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SAD: 53 bodies recovered, over 1,000 missing at Hawaii wildfires



No fewer than 53 people have now been killed by the Lahaina fire, Maui County said in a statement Thursday.

“As firefighting efforts continue, 17 additional fatalities have been confirmed today amid the active Lahaina fire. This brings the death toll to 53 people,” the statement said.


Asked about differing estimates on the total number of dead, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said: “We’ve recovered 53 people.”

“That means the confirmed death toll in Lahaina remains at 53, as the county declared earlier.


“If the mayor or myself do not give you that number, it’s not accurate. We’re going to take our time we’re going to do it right.

“I do not know what the final number is going to be. It’s going to be horrible and tragic,” he said.


The police chief said authorities don’t know exactly how many are missing but he thinks it is approximately about 1,000 people.

“That doesn’t mean that’s how many… that have passed,” John Pelletier said, adding that many could be in shelters or just unable to be contacted.

Power and internet are down for many across the island, which is complicating efforts to locate people.

Hawaii Governor, Josh Green described the impact of the wildfires in Maui as likely the “largest natural disaster in Hawaii’s state history,” during a news conference Thursday.

“What we’ve seen today has been catastrophic,” he said.

Green said that there will be a big team effort to “bring our state back.

“We are seeing a loss of life here. As you know, the number has been rising, and we will continue to see the loss of life,” the governor said, adding that “many hundreds of homes” have been destroyed.

“That’s going to take a great deal of time to recover from. But that’s why we come together. We come together to give comfort to people,” he said.

Hawaii has experienced wildfires before, but none like this.

On the impact of climate change in the state and how its government and residents can respond in the future, Green said, “We’ve never experienced a wildfire that affected a city like this before.”

He mentioned the state has been impacted by wildfires previously but largely in open spaces.

It was a “shock,” he said, to see the effects of Hurricane Dora — in particular, the trade winds that blow across Hawaii — affect the state in such a manner from hundreds of miles away.

“I think we’re seeing this in many different parts of the world, fires from California to Colorado.

“It is difficult now in a time where global warming is combined with strengthening storms and drought,” he said and vowed that the state would do whatever it could in its power to better anticipate such disasters.

“The devastating damage caused by the wildfires in Maui will take many years and billions of dollars to repair and rebuild.

“It will take time to know the full extent, but it will be in the billions of dollars, without a doubt. We’re first focused on lives lost, that’s why we are so heartbroken,” he said.

The governor added: “To give perspective, it is going to take many years to rebuild Lahaina,” noting that the full extent of the damage “will shock you.”

According to Green, thousands of people in Hawaii will need to be housed after unprecedented wildfires ravaged the island this week, while also adding that it is the state’s intent to initially seek 2,000 rooms to accommodate housing needs.

“That will mean reaching out to all of our hotels and those in the community,” he said.

He called on residents across the state with extra rooms in their homes to offer them to those in need.