Washington, Aug 11 (EFE).- The death toll from the wildfires on Maui rose to 67 on Friday, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in Hawaii’s history.
“As firefighting efforts continue, 12 additional fatalities have been confirmed as of 1pm today amid the active Lahaina fire. This brings the death toll to 67 people,” Maui County said in a statement.
“The Lahaina fire is not yet contained,” it added.
The toll surpasses the 61 people killed in Hilo Bay during the 1960 tsunami, although it is still a long way from the 1946 tsunami that killed 158 in Hilo before the territory became a US state.
The figure is also approaching the 85 fatalities from California’s 2018 Camp Fire – one of the deadliest US wildfires of the past century.
In an interview with CNN on Friday afternoon, Hawaii Governor Josh Green said that it may still be more than a week before authorities can comb through the charred remains of historic Lahaina town to get an idea of the total number of victims.
More than 11,000 people were still without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us, so communications with much of the island remain complex.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden declared a disaster in Hawaii and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by the wildfires that began Tuesday.
Biden also ordered US National Guard and US Third Fleet personnel in Hawaii to do everything possible to assist local authorities.
Images show whole areas reduced to ashes and the Civil Air Patrol said that almost 300 structures had been hit by the fire.
Green on Thursday told CNN he estimated that “upwards of 1,700 buildings” have been destroyed.
The severe drought that has affected the islands in recent months, as well as the strong winds from Hurricane Dora, caused the flames to spread at a much higher speed and making dousing the flames difficult, according to local authorities. EFE