At least 106 killed in Hawaii wildfires – and children among victims yet to be identified

World

The blaze that burned through the historic town of Lahaina on Maui last week has killed at least 106 people, Hawaii’s governor has said.

The announcement came as officials working to identify those who have lost their lives named two of the victims – Robert Dyckman, 74, and Buddy Jantoc, 79.

A further three victims have been identified and their names will be released once authorities have informed their next of kin, a Maui County statement added.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the families who are beginning to receive notifications about their loved ones,” said Mayor Richard Bissen. “As a community, we offer our prayers of comfort in this most difficult time.”

Mr Jantoc (C) was well known in the area
Image:
Buddy L Jantoc (C) with his granddaughter Keshia Alaka’i (R) and her husband Kaipo Alaka’i (L)

The wildfires, some of which have not yet been fully contained, are already the deadliest in the US in more than a century. Their cause is being investigated.

A mobile morgue unit has been brought in, and Governor Josh Green warned more bodies could be found.

The fire ravaged town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii
Image:
The fire ravaged town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii

Asked if children are among the missing, Mr Green told Hawaii News Now: “Tragically, yes… when the bodies are smaller, we know it’s a child.”

“The scale of destruction is incredible,” he said, adding the recovery will take time.

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President Joe Biden, who has faced criticism over his response to the fires, said on Tuesday he and first lady Jill Biden would visit Hawaii “as soon as we can”, but he does not want his presence to interrupt recovery and clean-up efforts.

During a stop in Milwaukee to highlight his economic agenda, Mr Biden pledged “every asset they need will be there for them”.

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Hawaii: ‘There was not enough water’

Read more:
Governor warns dozens more could be dead
Dramatic before and after shots show impact of blaze

The blaze that swept into centuries-old Lahaina last week destroyed nearly every building in the town of 13,000.

Survivors have been forced to seek shelter in hotel rooms set aside for displaced residents.

Even where the flames have retreated, authorities have warned that toxic by-products may remain, including in drinking water, after the flames spewed poisonous fumes. Many have been unable to return home as a result.

Donations of food, ice, water and other essentials have poured in.

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Mary Kerstulovich, a Maui estate agent who has sought supplies and housing for evacuees, said there was finally a sense government relief was arriving a full week after the disaster, but a more effective plan is needed.

“There is still a lot of chaos. People need supplies still,” she said.

The fire destroyed or damaged more than 2,200 buildings, 86% of them residential, and caused an estimated $5.5bn (£4.3bn) in damage, officials said.

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