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Officials releases list of hundreds missing since deadly wildfire in Maui

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deadly wildfire in Maui

Officials releases list of hundreds missing since deadly wildfire in Maui

Hawaii authorities have disclosed the identities of 338 individuals who remain missing, a little over two weeks after the most fatal wildfire in the United States in over a century devastated the resort town of Lahaina.

The roster, which has been assembled by the FBI, encompasses individuals whose complete names are known, and whose absence was reported by a source for which officials have validated contact details.

Steven Merrill, a special agent from the FBI’s Honolulu division, stated during a press briefing in Maui on Friday, “The list of 388 names represents a subset of a larger inventory. It’s important to emphasize that we are still dealing with a few hundred other names for which we require additional information.”

Related: Maui’s Head of Emergency Management Steps Down Amid Controversy

Shortly after the list’s release, the FBI was apprised of approximately 100 people on the list who were confirmed to be safe; however, verification efforts were still underway, as per Merrill.

The fatality count from the fire that broke out on August 8 on Maui stands at 115, although authorities have cautioned that this count is expected to increase. Search and rescue units are continuing their meticulous examination of the charred remains in Lahaina, with the operation nearing completion as of Friday.

With the publication of the names late Thursday, authorities have urged anyone aware of the safety of individuals listed, or possessing supplementary information that could facilitate their location, to reach out to the FBI. Additionally, officials have appealed to relatives to submit names of any other missing persons and to provide DNA samples to aid in identifying remains. The participation rate for providing DNA samples has fallen below authorities’ expectations, intensifying the challenge of the task.

Earlier in the week, officials noted having an ongoing record of 1,000 to 1,100 individuals whose whereabouts remained unknown. However, they cautioned that this tally encompassed individuals with only a single name, redundant listings, and individuals of unclear gender.

As of Thursday afternoon, an added 1,732 individuals initially reported as missing have been located, according to official statements.

Numerous families have been enduring an agonizing wait for news about missing family members since the fire, propelled by strong winds from an approaching hurricane and arid conditions, ravaged Lahaina. Survivors, some of whom leaped into the Pacific Ocean to flee the inferno, have revealed receiving minimal or no forewarning, prompting authorities to initiate assessments of the island’s emergency alert protocols.

This fire has marked the deadliest incident of its kind in the U.S. since a forest fire in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 1918 claimed over 450 lives.

In a legal move on Thursday, Maui County filed a lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric (HE.N), alleging failure to deactivate its equipment despite advance warnings that the intense winds could topple power lines. The utility company expressed its “deep disappointment” regarding the county’s decision to litigate while an ongoing investigation was still in progress.

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