Death Toll Rises to 89 in Devastating Fires on Hawaii Maui Island

news 13-Aug-2023 Usa News

Death Toll Rises to 89 on Hawaii's Maui Island

The death toll from the devastating brush and forest fires on Maui Island in the US state of Hawaii has risen to 89. According to media reports, this makes it the deadliest wildfire catastrophe in recent US history. Emergency relief efforts are progressing slowly.

During a press conference, the governor of the state, Josh Green, announced that the number of deaths from the devastating brush and forest fires on Maui Island in the US state of Hawaii has reached 89. Green stated that these are the deadliest brush fires in the United States in over 100 years.

Authorities had previously reported the death toll as 80. Green had already anticipated further casualties. It could take up to a week for rescue teams to clear the debris and ash in all affected areas.

Slow Progress in Emergency Relief Efforts

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated that around a dozen federal agencies are involved in providing assistance to the fire victims. 150 FEMA employees, including search and rescue teams, are already on Maui, with more on their way.

Rescue operations are further complicated by the fact that the city of Lahaina in the north and south can only be accessed through a single major road. Governor Green admitted that emergency relief efforts were progressing slowly because it was difficult to transport materials from other islands to Maui. The situation is unprecedentedly devastating.

According to updated figures from the Pacific Disaster Center and FEMA, approximately 2,200 buildings in the district have been damaged or destroyed by the fires. Initial estimates suggest that the rebuilding efforts could cost around $5.5 billion.

Criticism of Disaster Management

Not only is emergency relief on Maui posing problems, but there has also been growing criticism that no warning sirens were used at the onset of the disaster.

In the city of Lahaina, which had a population of around 13,000 before the tragedy struck, there were complaints that the evacuation may have been ordered too late. According to the "New York Times," authorities had provided updates on Facebook on Thursday, stating that the fires were under control. Later, at a press conference, Fire Chief Bradford Ventura said that the fires had spread unexpectedly quickly and that it had been "nearly impossible" to order evacuations in time.

Governor Green told CNN that he has ordered an investigation into the initially sluggish response by authorities.

Fires broke out on Tuesday

In addition to the fires in western Maui, fires broke out in other regions of the island as well as on the neighboring island of Hawaii earlier this week. Due to strong winds reaching speeds of up to 130 kilometers per hour, the fires spread rapidly. With an area of approximately 1,900 square kilometers, the Hawaiian island is about half the size of the Spanish vacation island of Mallorca.


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