Maui officials release list of hundreds missing since deadly wildfire

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In a somber update from KIHEI, Hawaii, authorities have unveiled the identities of 338 individuals who remain unaccounted for, heartbreaking aftermath of the deadliest wildfire in over a century to ravage Lahaina, a serene resort town. The list, meticulously assembled by the FBI, exclusively encompasses individuals whose complete names are documented and who were reported as missing by individuals with verified contact information.

During a press conference in Maui, Steven Merrill, a dedicated special agent hailing from the FBI’s Honolulu field office, emphasized that the 388 names released represent just a portion of a larger compilation. “Let’s not forget that among these names, there are still several hundred cases where we’re seeking additional information,” Merrill acknowledged.

Shortly following the dissemination of this list, the FBI received a flurry of notifications indicating that approximately 100 people mentioned on the roster had been located. According to Merrill, the diligent efforts of agents are presently focused on confirming these reports.

Tragically, the devastating fire that swept through Maui on August 8th has led to a death toll of 115, and authorities are grimly forecasting that this count may ascend even further. Teams dedicated to search and rescue operations are in the final stages of sifting through the charred remnants of Lahaina, making significant headway as of Friday.

As the names of the missing were unveiled late on Thursday, officials impassioned citizens who possess knowledge about the safety of those listed or hold vital details that could aid in their whereabouts, to reach out to the FBI. Additionally, authorities are appealing to relatives of the missing to come forward with names and provide crucial DNA samples, essential components for the identification of remains. Unfortunately, the response to this appeal for DNA has been less than anticipated, intensifying an already formidable undertaking.

While officials had initially estimated a count of 1,000 to 1,100 individuals unaccounted for earlier in the week, it was disclosed that this figure encompassed entries with single names, duplicates, and individuals whose gender identification was unclear. As of Thursday afternoon, an encouraging 1,732 individuals initially reported missing have thankfully been located.

Families throughout the region have been enduring an anguishing wait for news of their loved ones since the fire’s destructive rampage through Lahaina, propelled by fierce winds from an approaching hurricane and parched conditions. Survivors, some of whom bravely leaped into the Pacific Ocean to evade the flames, expressed their lack of advanced warning, sparking comprehensive reviews of the island’s emergency alert protocols.

This inferno stands as the deadliest in the United States since a forest fire in 1918 claimed over 450 lives across Minnesota and Wisconsin. On a related note, Maui County has filed a lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric on grounds of negligence for failing to deactivate their equipment despite warnings of potential power line collapses due to strong winds. The utility company expressed its disappointment with the lawsuit, considering the ongoing investigation.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in Kihei and Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Julia Harte and Brad Brooks; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis)

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