Hawaii’s governor urges more people to file missing persons reports to aid Maui investigation

Sep 4, 2023, 8:41 AM

In an aerial view, burned cars and homes are seen a neighborhood that was destroyed by a wildfire o...

In an aerial view, burned cars and homes are seen a neighborhood that was destroyed by a wildfire on August 17, 2023 in Lahaina, Hawaii. At least 111 people were killed and thousands were displaced after a wind driven wildfire devastated the towns of Lahaina and Kula early last week. Crews are continuing to search for missing people. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

LAHAINA, Hawaii — Hundreds of people remain unaccounted for following the deadly fires in Maui, and the state’s governor is urging people to file missing persons reports to aid investigators.

So far, authorities are handling 41 active missing persons cases, Gov. Josh Green said Monday on CNN this morning.

The broader list of missing people compiled from federal and local authorities and Red Cross records stands at 385, down from a peak of about 1,200.

The death toll remains at 115.

Green told CNN’s Jake Tapper last week that authorities have made a “great deal of progress” locating people, and predicted the number of missing would go down significantly, but it remained mostly unchanged.

“I think we’re going to hear a number in the lower double digits tomorrow, hopefully under 50,” Green said. “And it’s not much consolation because our hearts are broken that we lost 115 people for sure, but it is something that we are grateful that it is not 800 or 1,000 like people were projecting earlier. But tomorrow we should have a much tighter number for everyone.”

Green has asked the attorney general to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the Aug. 8 fires, as island authorities faced mounting scrutiny over whether more action could have been taken to warn residents as the flames wreaked havoc, devastating Lahaina.

Maui Mayor Richard T. Bissen said in a statement Thursday he’s trying to clear up what happened in the early days of the wildfires when even top officials were caught off guard by the severity of the quickly escalating situation.

“The early hours of a disaster unfolded with our emergency responders facing conditions that were made extraordinarily difficult, with high wind, falling debris, including utility poles, and a rapidly advancing wildfire,” Bissen said. “The severe gravity of the impact was not clear in the initial hours, as our firefighters and police on the ground placed all of their efforts and actions towards helping people in the areas.”

“As the evening of the first day came, the horrific effects of the wildfire in Lahaina became apparent,” Bissen said.

The mayor said he first learned the morning of Aug. 9 that people had died.

“The realization that we had lost lives was devastating,” he said.

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Hawaii’s governor urges more people to file missing persons reports to aid Maui investigation