City of Lahaina 80 percent destroyed: Committee of Inquiry ordered into wildfires

City of Lahaina 80 percent destroyed: Committee of Inquiry ordered into wildfires

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 67. This was announced by the Maui district late Friday evening (local time). Meanwhile, clearing and clearing operations continued.

Several fires broke out on Maui and the neighboring island of Hawaii on Tuesday, which were quickly increased by strong winds with speeds of up to 130 kilometers per hour.

“The number of deaths will undoubtedly continue to rise,” said Hawaii Gov. Josh Green on Friday. So far, victims have been identified who had fled their homes at the time of their death. Several US media reported that the rescue teams can only penetrate gradually into the interior of destroyed buildings. However, the winds from earlier in the week died down.

Particularly The small town of Lahaina in the west was badly hit the island. According to Green, the first residents were able to return to their homes on Friday. But he warned about the condition of the houses. “You will see a level of destruction like never before in your life,” the governor told KHON2 television.

Have the warning systems failed?

However, there had been criticism in Lahaina that an evacuation may have been ordered too late according to the “New York Times” on Facebook, there were reports from the authorities on Thursday that the fires were under control. Fire Chief Bradford Ventura later said at a press conference that the fires had spread surprisingly quickly and that it had previously been “almost impossible” to order evacuations quickly enough. According to CNN, about 1,700 buildings on Maui have been destroyed.

Now the Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into the slow response from the authorities announced. There will be a “comprehensive review” of the decisions made by the authorities “before, during and after the wildfires on the islands of Maui and Hawaii,” said Attorney General Anne Lopez’s office on Friday (local time).

Numerous residents criticized that they were not warned of the fire by sirens and accused those responsible of failure. They could only have relied on word-of-mouth and rumours, resident William Harry told AFP on his return to the nearly burnt-out town of Lahaina. “Where is the government? Where are they?” shouted another man who didn’t want to give his name.

“Twelve more deaths from the fire (…) in Lahaina were confirmed today (…) while firefighting continues,” authorities on the island of Maui said on Friday. This increased the death toll to 67, it said. In a previous balance sheet, at least 55 deaths had been mentioned. Hawaii Governor Josh Green said, the flames would have destroyed 80 percent of the city of Lahaina in western Maui. Thousands of people became homeless. Many jumped into the sea to escape the flames.

Maui has an area of ​​around 1900 square kilometers, just over two-thirds the size of Saarland. Almost 13,000 people live in the city of Lahaina in the west of the island, which was particularly badly affected by the fires. According to the city’s retail association, it is visited by around two million tourists every year. (dpa)


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