The death toll in fire disaster in Lahaina on the island of Maui Hawaii, United States of America has risen to 93 and counting, Maui County has said in an update.
The development means the fire, which devastated the town of Lahaina, is the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history, surpassing the 2018 Camp Fire in California, which killed 85, NBC reports.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Hawaii, Josh Green has given a stark warning to the world in the aftermath of the “fire hurricane” that destroyed the historic town.
The state’s drought conditions from climate change and difficulties with water management had combined with 60mph winds from Hurricane Dora which had just passed the island, Mr Green explained in an interview on MSNBC on Sunday.
This allowed three of four fires to seed quickly in the wind and then move at a mile-per-minute through the community obliterating everything in its path, according to Independent report.
“That’s what a fire hurricane is going to look (like) in the era of global warming,” he warned, emphasising the need for action on climate change.
The death toll stands at 93 confirmed fatalities and is expected to rise further in what the governor described as a “war zone” and the “worst natural disaster that Hawaii ever faced”. It is already the deadliest wildfire in modern US history.
Firefighters continue to battle flare-ups as much of the town remains sealed off. Crews with cadaver-sniffing dogs have covered just three per cent of the search area, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said on Saturday.
It was “too grim” of a scene in Lahaina after the natural disaster struck, Mr Green told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart on Sunday.
“When we tried to lift and embrace those that we’ve lost, there’s nothing there practically,” he said. The state of the bodies could complicate identification efforts, with only two victims identified as of Saturday, Maui County officials said.
A final death toll won’t be known for some time, but it has already surpassed that of the 2018 Camp fire in California that destroyed the town of Paradise, killing 85 people. The highest number of fatalities from a wildfire remains the 1918 Cloquet fire in Minnesota and Wisconsin which took 453 lives, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Hawaii’s worst natural disaster on record before this week’s fire was in 1960 — just a year after it became a US state — when a tsunami killed 61 people.
So far, at least 2,200 buildings are listed as damaged or destroyed in West Maui, of which 86 per cent were residential. Total damage across the island from the multiple fires that sprung up is initially estimated at close to $6bn