Hawaii wildfires: '20 bodies being found a day' with fears death toll of 96 could triple

Hawaii wildfires: ’20 bodies being found a day’ with fears death toll of 96 could triple

Hawaii governor Josh Green said in a statement Monday that as many as 10 to 20 people could be found dead per day on Maui as the death toll quickly rises and search and rescue efforts continue

As search and rescue efforts continue on the island of Maui, the governor of Hawaii provided a harrowing statistic about the efforts and what he expects teams to find.

“They will find 10 to 20 people a day, probably, until they finish,” Governor Josh Green told “CBS Mornings” in a recorded interview Monday. “We are prepared for many tragic stories.”

He estimates it might take up to 10 more days to conclude search and rescue efforts — and with 10 to 20 bodies turning up every day, that makes for 100 to 200 more dead on top of the already 96 confirmed deceased.

And two fires have yet to be extinguished, according to a Maui County update from late Sunday.

Authorities continue to comb the area with as many as 20 cadaver dogs and dozens of volunteers. As of Saturday, however, they’d only covered 3% of the total area they have to search, said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier.

“Right now, they’re going street by street, block by block between cars, and soon they’ll start to enter buildings,” Jeff Hickman, the director of public affairs for the Hawaii Department of Defense, said Monday on NBC’s “Today.”

The number of missing persons dropped to 1,300 from 2,000 as cell service has been restored to the area and individuals have been able to contact their loved ones or authorities, Green said.

When fires broke out early last week, the flames raced more than a mile a minute, ravaging the small coastal town of Lāhainā in hours, forcing residents and tourists alike to dive into the ocean in attempts to save themselves from the scorching tongues of flame.

Around $5.6billion (£4.4billion) in damages was accrued, Green said, leaving “very little left there” in the village.

The fires have been deemed the deadliest in the US in over a century and could have lingering effects for days and weeks to come. Toxic fumes from the blaze are polluting waters, and thousands have been displaced.

The government has been working to secure hotel rooms and Airbnb spaces for displaced families and emergency workers who ventured to the island to help with the recovery efforts.

No cause has been officially determined for the blazes, though the dry air, a Category 4 hurricane to the south and a northerly high pressure system contributed to the fast and deadly spread of the fires.

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