The number of dead after the devastating bush and forest fires on the island of Maui in the US state of Hawaii has risen to 55. This was announced by the Maui district late Thursday evening (local time). The extinguishing work on the island continued. It is to be feared that the number of victims will increase, local media reported, citing the authorities. At least 20 people were seriously injured by burns, some of whom are in critical condition.
There are still people missing. How many, however, is difficult to say, citing Maui's police chief John Pelletier. This is also due to the fact that mobile communications have collapsed. In addition, according to the website poweroutage.us, around 11,000 households are still without electricity.
In the burned-down coastal town of Lahaina, the fire brigade was able to bring the fire under about 80 percent control by evening. However, the residents of the popular tourist resort with its many wooden houses are still forbidden from access because the rescue work is ongoing. Additional rescue teams with cadaver dogs from California and the state of Washington are on their way to Maui, it said. "None of that is there anymore. It's all burned down," said Lahaina Mayor Richard Bissen.
Hawaii's governor Josh Green was also shocked: "When you see the full extent of the destruction in Lahaina, it's shocking. It looks like a bomb went off and then a fire broke out." Virtually all buildings would have to be rebuilt. This will be in the billions of dollars. At the same time, he called on the hotels to take in the thousands of residents who had become homeless.
According to the media, six emergency shelters are currently in operation. Around 30,000 visitors have now been flown out, reported the broadcaster CNN, citing the tourism authority. Several fires broke out on Maui and the neighboring island of Hawaii on Tuesday, which were quickly enlarged by strong winds.