Law enforcement authorities in Maui are urgently working to locate over 1,000 individuals who have been reported as missing following devastating wildfires that destroyed the town of Lahaina. The count of missing people is changing daily as new reports come in and others are found, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. Maui County officials had initially stated that 850 people were missing, and as of Tuesday, at least 115 people have been confirmed dead due to the fires.
To address the situation, the FBI is collaborating with the Maui Police Department to review multiple lists of missing individuals from various sources to determine accurate numbers. They have located 1,400 people out of the original count of 2,500 reported missing. Law enforcement is urging individuals who have filed missing person reports to provide the most current and precise information to aid in their efforts.
Search teams have already covered all single-story homes in Lahaina and are now focusing on multistory residential and commercial buildings in the affected area. Maui County officials are requesting families with missing loved ones to submit DNA samples to assist in identifying recovered remains. About 75% of tested remains have yielded searchable DNA results, and the samples collected are solely for identification purposes related to the fires.
Maui Police Chief John Pelletier acknowledged that while they are conducting extensive recovery operations, they cannot guarantee the recovery of all victims’ remains due to the extent of the destruction. He compared the situation to recovery efforts at ground zero in New York City after the 9/11 attacks. Pelletier mentioned that there will likely be a combination of confirmed and presumed casualties due to the magnitude of the devastation, but specific numbers are not available yet.
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