The devastating wildfires that swept through Maui earlier this month have left 850 people officially missing, according to an announcement by Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen. The death toll from the wildfires, which are now considered the deadliest in modern U.S. history, stands at 114. Bissen revealed that 27 victims have been identified so far, with their families notified. The FBI determined the number of missing individuals by combining and refining various lists of missing persons. While the figures are tragic, Bissen expressed some relief, as the initial missing person list contained over 2,000 names.
As cellphone communications were restored and people were able to make contact with their loved ones, the number of initially feared missing individuals gradually decreased. However, accurately counting the missing in a mass casualty disaster can take months or even years, as researchers and forensic anthropologists have noted. Lynn Goldman, an epidemiologist and dean of a university, emphasized the complexity of the task. Goldman stated that they are still trying to determine who was in the area during the fire, including residents, tourists, and transients. Identifying the remains and finding closure for the families affected will be an arduous and time-consuming process.
To expedite the identification process, the FBI has opened a site where people can provide DNA samples. These samples will be matched with the remains that have already been found. This initiative aims to bring some closure to the families of the victims and assist in the ongoing efforts to identify the deceased.
The devastating wildfires in Maui have left 850 people officially missing, with a death toll of 114. While the number of missing individuals has decreased from the initial count, the process of accurately determining the missing and identifying the victims will be a lengthy one. The FBI’s initiative to collect DNA samples from relatives will aid in the identification process. As the community grapples with the aftermath of this tragedy, the focus remains on supporting the affected families and providing closure to those who have lost their loved ones.