In a shocking turn of events, the number of missing people in the aftermath of the deadly wildfires that struck Maui has dropped significantly. Hawaii Governor Josh Green announced on Friday that the revised number of missing individuals now stands at 66, a drastic decrease from the list released just a week ago, which reported 385 missing persons. Since the initial report following the devastating August blaze, the number of missing has been in constant flux, starting at over 3,000 and gradually decreasing. However, there is still a possibility that the number could increase once reports about an additional 80 missing individuals, currently being vetted for credibility by the Maui Police Department, are confirmed.
Officials have emphasized that the information available about the missing individuals is limited, often consisting only of their names. Governor Green has urged families to provide any information they have about their missing loved ones, in order to aid the search efforts. The Maui Police Department and the FBI have collaborated on the updated list of missing persons, which is now in its third iteration. The initial confusion and chaos surrounding the natural disaster led to the ballooning of the missing persons list to 3,000, a number that has now been significantly reduced.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the devastating fire that ravaged the town of Lahaina remains at 115. Governor Green expects some overlap between the names on the missing list and the remains that have already been recovered. This suggests that the death toll is unlikely to increase significantly. However, only about half of the victims have been identified so far. Reports indicate that among the identified victims, 22 were in their 70s, 13 were in their 60s, and tragically, one victim was under the age of 10.
The road to recovery for the affected residents will be long and arduous. It is estimated that it will take three to four months before they can return to their damaged or destroyed properties. This timeline is due to the necessary removal of hazardous materials from the area by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, Governor Green's office has announced that travel restrictions to the island will be lifted on October 8, allowing tourists to visit once again. The decision to reopen West Maui is seen as a way to support the local economy and help the residents heal and rebuild their lives.
The cause of the wildfire that wreaked havoc on Maui has yet to be officially determined, but investigators are focusing their attention on Hawaiian Electric, the state's primary power company. Maui County has filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing it of negligence for failing to shut off power despite the high winds and dry conditions that contributed to the spread of the fire.
In the wake of the disaster, authorities have been working tirelessly to provide assistance to those affected. Since August 16, around 7,500 displaced survivors have been relocated from shelters to 29 hotels and hundreds of Airbnbs. Governor Green expressed his hope that the decision to open West Maui to visitors will bring a sense of hope for recovery and aid in the healing process of the affected community.
As the investigation into the cause of the fire continues and the search for missing individuals progresses, the residents of Maui are left grappling with the aftermath of this devastating natural disaster. The road to recovery will undoubtedly be long and challenging, but with the support of the community and the determination of the authorities, hope remains for a brighter future.