The provisional human toll from the fires in Hawaii has been revised downwards and fell to 97 deaths, compared to 115 victims previously announced by the authorities, the governor of the American archipelago, Josh Green, said on Friday.
“That number went down a little bit because the Department of Defense and all of their forensic experts were able to help us better discern who was in the cars or in the houses,” he explained in a video posted on social networks. “Thank God fewer people died.”
The Democrat, who was an emergency doctor before entering politics, did not give additional details to understand how bodies could have been counted by mistake.
So far, only 74 people have been identified (out of the 97 bodies found), and moreover, 31 are still missing - compared to several hundred just a few weeks ago -, he added.
Since the fire that almost razed the tourist town of Lahaina on Maui on August 8, the search for bodies has proven difficult.
The fire transformed thousands of buildings into piles of ashes, making the remains often unrecognizable. The authorities asked relatives of the missing to provide a DNA sample to hope to identify the victims.
The true extent of the tragedy is still not known.
The management of the authorities, which is the subject of an investigation, has been widely criticized, in particular because the warning sirens, planned in the event of a tsunami, volcanic eruption or fires, have never sounded.
Many Lahaina residents were caught by the fire at the last moment and dozens had to throw themselves into the sea to escape the flames.
Some hydrants used by firefighters also ran out of water or pressure.
Hawaii's main electricity supplier, Hawaiian Electric, is also the target of multiple complaints accusing it of negligence because it did not cut off power despite a clear warning from the weather service.
Before the fire devoured the former capital of the kingdom of Hawaii, the archipelago was on fire red alert because of violent winds fueled by Hurricane Dora, which was breaking into the Pacific a few hundred kilometers offshore.
09/16/2023 05:14:22 - Los Angeles (AFP) - © 2023 AFP