60 people deemed missing were found safe after Maui wildfires as teams intensify search

60 people deemed missing were found safe after Maui wildfires as teams intensify search
# 15 August 2023 18:20 (UTC +04:00)

Hawaii officials worked painstakingly to identify the 99 people confirmed killed in wildfires that ravaged Maui and expected to release the first names Tuesday, even as teams intensified the search for more dead in neighborhoods reduced to ash, APA reports citing ABC News.

A week after a blaze tore through historic Lahaina, many who survived have started moving into hundreds of hotel rooms set aside for displaced locals.

Crews using cadaver dogs have scoured about 25% of the search area, the police chief said Monday. Gov. Josh Green asked for patience and space to do the search properly as authorities became overwhelmed with requests to visit the burn area.

"For those people who have walked into Lahaina because they really wanted to see, know that they're very likely walking on iwi," he said at a news conference on Maui, using the Hawaiian word for "bones."

Just three bodies have been identified so far and officials will start releasing names on Tuesday, according to Maui Police Chief John Pelletier, who renewed an appeal for families with missing relatives to provide DNA samples.

Green warned that scores more bodies could be found. But 60 people who were deemed missing were found safe in a single house on Wednesday, ABC News has learned.

Officials are now using the term "unaccounted for" instead of "missing" because many people on the Hawaiian island have no power, internet or phones and can't get in touch with relatives or authorities.

The wildfires, some of which have not yet been fully contained, are already the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century. The cause was under investigation.