1,100 Missing as Crews Recover Bodies in Crumbling Maui Fires

11:37 23.08.2023

Authorities in Hawaii are urging relatives of those missing after the deadly wildfires in Lahaina, Maui, to come forward and provide DNA samples to aid in the identification of remains. Currently, there are 1,000 to 1,100 names on the unconfirmed list of people unaccounted for, but only 104 families have provided DNA samples so far. The low number of samples collected threatens to hinder identification efforts. Officials are concerned about the lack of response from family members, as it is lower than in other major disasters. They are urging people to provide DNA samples, assuring them that the samples will only be used for identification purposes and will not be entered into any law enforcement databases or used for other purposes.

The task of determining the fate of those who remain unaccounted for is proving to be challenging for officials. In some cases, only partial names have been provided, and in other cases, names may be duplicated. Authorities want to create a verified list of the missing, but they are facing difficulties due to incomplete or unclear information. Police Chief John Pelletier emphasized the importance of providing DNA samples and filing police reports with as much information as possible to aid in the identification process.

One person listed as missing, Roseanna Samartano, was surprised to receive a call from the FBI as she was unaware that anyone was looking for her. Samartano's friend had reported her missing because he couldn't reach her due to the lack of power, cellphone service, and internet in her neighborhood. This highlights the challenges faced by officials in determining the status of those who are unaccounted for. Authorities are also grappling with the possibility that some bodies may have been cremated by the intense heat of the wildfires, making identification through DNA tests difficult.

The number of missing individuals has increased to around 1,100 due to ambiguous or partial information. The initial list of missing individuals included 2,500 names, but 1,400 people have been found safe. The FBI's list of unaccounted-for people is based on various sources, including shelter logs, the Red Cross, FEMA, the Maui Emergency Management Agency, missing persons reports, and the local family assistance center. However, many reports lack crucial information, such as a complete name or date of birth. Officials are working to reach out to those who made the original reports to obtain additional details.

The search and identification efforts in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires are the deadliest in modern U.S. history, surpassing the 2018 Camp Fire in California. The confirmed death toll stands at 115, but the number could still rise higher. The focus now is on collecting DNA samples and gathering as much information as possible to aid in the identification of remains.

/ Wednesday, August 23, 2023, 11:37 AM /

themes:  California  Hawaii

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