Death Toll Could Climb Steadily, Governor Says

Hot spots are slowing the search for victims
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2023 7:20 PM CDT
Hawaii Crews May Find at Least 10 Victims a Day: Governor
Volunteers load supplies onto a boat for West Maui at the Kihei boat landing on Sunday.   (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Hawaii's governor said Monday that crews searching through the destruction left by the wildfires could find 10 to 20 bodies daily for as many as 10 days. Searchers are checking burned homes and vehicles for the missing, Gov. Josh Green said. The official death toll stands at 99, he told CNN, a total that could double. More than 1,000 people are missing, Green said, and identifying the victims will require time, per the BBC. Maui Police Chief Jeff Pelletier said just two victims' identities have been confirmed so far, using DNA technology.

Hot spots remain, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said, "so we have fire crews that are helping to pull down the area so the dogs can go in there." Because of the heat, the agency's 10 search dogs have to stop often to rest and hydrate, slowing the process. The situation still is "extremely hazardous," she said. The first 80 victims were found on Lahaina's Front Street in vehicles and along the waterfront, Green said, per ABC News. "We've got an area that we have to contain that is at least five square miles," Pelletier said over the weekend, "and it is full of our loved ones." (More Hawaii wildfires stories.)

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