Disasters & Accidents

US beefs up search efforts in fire-devastated Hawaii with more canine teams

Washington, Aug 16 (EFE).- The US government said Wednesday morning it will step up its search-and-rescue operation in wildfire-stricken Hawaii by sending more dogs trained to detect human remains.

The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Deanne Criswell, said at a White House briefing that at least 40 canine teams soon will be operating on Maui, the most-devastated Hawaiian island.

She added that FEMA is working meticulously in the affected areas to locate missing people while also respecting the islands’ cultural sensitivities.

Devastating fires in Maui over the past week have caused at least 106 deaths, although that figure is likely to rise because only 32 percent of the burned zone in Lahaina – an area that runs from the hillsides of the West Maui Mountains to the coast – has been searched so far.

Criswell said more cadaver dogs were needed because the heat and the difficult terrain, including glass and other debris on the ground, make frequent rest a necessity.

Besides the additional dogs, 30 forensic experts from the Department of Health and Human Services are now in Maui and others from the Defense Department are expected to arrive soon to help identify those who perished in Lahaina.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to travel on Monday to Maui and meet with emergency workers, survivors and federal, state and local officials.

“(Biden) is going to be able to bring hope and he’s going to speak with the governor and the state’s first lady and talk to survivors and hear their stories. And it’s that level of hope that I think is going to really be a positive impact for this community,” Criswelll said. EFE


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