Death toll from Hawaii wildfire rises to 80 as thousands seek shelter

Death toll from Hawaii wildfire rises to 80 as thousands seek shelter

'Lahaina Town has been reduced to ashes,' firefighting underway, says official

By Esra Tekin

ISTANBUL (AA) – With 25 more casualties in Lahaina town, the death toll from the Hawaii wildfire rose to 80 on Saturday, according to the local media.

Entry to Lahaina town in northwestern Hawaii remains restricted, but Maui County temporarily allowed access to neighboring regions for approximately four hours on Friday, Hawaii News Now reported.

However, the road was closed again due to safety reasons.

The authorities stated that only individuals who are residents or have hotel bookings will be permitted entry.

Stringent regulations and a curfew are being enforced.

The Lahaina wildfire, one of the most lethal in the US in recent years, has forced thousands of residents to evacuate, destroyed hundreds of structures, and caused harm to essential infrastructure.

Returning residents are being cautioned about the lack of electricity in a significant portion of West Maui and the unreliable nature of cellphone service in their devastated homes and neighborhoods.

Fire suppression efforts are still ongoing on the island, with the fire currently being restrained to around 85% of its extent.

A total of six fires are burning on the Big Island and Maui, where most of the devastation has occurred since the blazes broke out on Tuesday.

On Friday, local authorities reported that 1,418 residents were housed in evacuation shelters, and there were even more people seeking refuge with friends, at hotels, or in their vehicles.

Governor Josh Green personally surveyed the destruction in Lahaina town on Thursday, and he subsequently informed the press that this once-favored tourist spot and historical center of the Hawaiian kingdom has been completely “gone.”

Green also provided an estimate of over 1,000 structures being obliterated.

“It does appear like a bomb and fire went off, if I may. And all of the buildings virtually are going to have to be rebuilt. It will be a new Lahaina that Maui builds in its own image, with its own values,” the governor said.

“Lahaina Town has been reduced to ashes. It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” said The US senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, on his X social media, formerly known as Twitter.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden declared a “national disaster” for what has become one of the most lethal calamities in Hawaii's history and the deadliest wildfire event in the US in several years.

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