West News Wire: The number of people killed by the devastating wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui has now reached 55, but officials have warned that the death toll is likely to keep rising. 

On Thursday, 17 more fatalities were announced, bringing the total to 53. Maui County reported that two more bodies had been discovered by Thursday night. 

Josh Green, the governor of Hawaii, stated on Thursday night that there are still about 1,000 people missing and that the Aloha State is on the verge of experiencing its deadliest disaster in recorded history. 

According to Mr. Green, individuals who are missing are not automatically assumed dead because hundreds have been cut off from contacts, making their safety uncertain. 

“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,” he said. 

The wildfires continue to devastate Lahaina, with more than 1,700 buildings and billions of dollars in property destroyed. 

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said that the historic town has been totally wiped out. 

“It’s all gone. None of it’s there. It’s all burnt to the ground,” he said. 

Authorities are requesting that anyone planning a trip to Hawaii or who is already there cancel their plans or return home so that hotels can be used to house individuals who have lost their houses. 

In Maui, where flames decimated towns and neighbourhoods, search and recovery efforts are under way. Cadaver dogs are helping in the recovery. 

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While there were initially 36 confirmed fatalities in Hawaii, governor Josh Green warned the number could rise as authorities start hunting for survivors in their surviving homes. 

In order to help in such efforts, cadaver dogs from California and Washington were in Maui on Thursday, according to Robert Fenton, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

“The destruction I witnessed today is substantial,” Mr. Fenton said. 

With at least 55 confirmed fatalities, thousands of residents and visitors forced to flee, and the picturesque and storied beach resort of Lahaina destroyed, the fires currently ravaging Maui and the Big Island in Hawaii are the state’s worst natural disaster since 1960. 

In addition, the catastrophe already ranks as the second-deadliest wildfire epidemic in American history over the past 100 years, with only the Camp Fire in California in 2018 having killed more people than the current death toll in Hawaii, which is still increasing and may still overtake it. 

Hawaii’s governor, Josh Green, pleaded with homeowners with intact houses to welcome others as they continue search and recovery work during a press conference on Thursday. 


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