At least 55 people have died and many are still missing as evacuations continued Thursday in Maui, Hawaii, due to the wildfires.
Death toll: On Thursday, 19 people were confirmed dead, bringing the death toll to 55. However, officials warned that the loss of life is expected to rise further amid the ongoing flames.
There are also around 1,000 people still missing as the Aloha State is headed for its deadliest disaster in history, according to Hawaii Gov. Josh Green.
“Here’s the challenge: there’s no power, no internet, no phone, no radio. You compound some of that. So when we’re speaking to our officers, we need them to get a sat phone,” Green said, according to The Independent.
A Californian team is reportedly joining crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and other agencies by sea and helicopter to help search for and rescue victims.
Update on Lahaina: The wildfires in the historic Maui town of Lahaina continue to rip through the community, with more than 1,700 buildings and billions of dollars in property destroyed. But as of Thursday,
officials reported that the fire is now 80% contained.
“It’s all gone. None of it’s there. It’s all burnt to the ground,” said Maui Mayor Richard Bissen.
As residents mourn the loss of culture and community mainstays for Native Hawaiians, Gov. Green said that it will take years to rebuild Lahaina.
“When you see the full extent of the destruction of Lahaina, it will shock you. It does appear like a bomb and fire went off, if I may. And all of those buildings virtually are going to have to be rebuilt,” Green said at a news conference.
Cause of the wildfires: Wildfires burned across Hawaii after dry conditions and strong winds passing through the state from Hurricane Dora, a Category 4 storm, ignited the blaze this week. The fire in Lahaina town is reportedly only one of at least seven other wildfires statewide that firefighters are battling against amid bad conditions.
As authorities continue to make progress against other major fires on the island, thousands of residents remain displaced while nearly 11,000 Maui residents are still without power.
Disaster declaration: On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a disaster declaration pledging significant federal resources toward Maui’s recovery and to ensure “anyone who’s lost a loved one, whose home has been damaged or destroyed, is going to get help immediately.”