The search for victims of the Maui fires has moved from the ground to the water as hundreds of people on the island are still unaccounted for.
Maui police say they have completed 100% of their search area in the burn zone and are now moving to the ocean, where some people fled to escape the flames.
For days the death toll from the fires has stood at 115 people, but last week Maui County released an FBI-verified list of 388 people still unaccounted for. It’s the most recent estimate of the number of people who are still missing.
The FBI says it is searching a four-mile stretch of the coastline off Lahaina, around 200 yards out, for bodies.
Even with the number of people still missing and the water search, authorities say they do not expect the death toll to rise much more since the number of missing people only accounts for who authorities have not been able to contact. Authorities say it is possible some of the missing have already been in touch with loved ones.
Residents still are not allowed inside the burn zone in Lahaina due to ash that may contain toxic, cancer-causing chemicals. Officials say along with broken glass, exposed electrical wires, and other hazards, they want to keep people safe as they work to remove debris.
On Wednesday, President Biden said Hawaii has the full commitment of the U.S. government in a press conference. The President also announced $95 million from the bipartisan infrastructure bill would be going to Maui to help build back the power grid in a more resilient way.
“I’m directing my administration to keep working with urgency and focus to help the people of Maui to help on their journey to recovery and healing, and we’re going to make sure they are better than before,” said the President. “I said it when we were on the island last week, we’re not leaving until the job is done and we’ll be there as long as it takes.”
Authorities say it could take months to remove what is left inside the burn zone and are asking for patience as they do this in a thorough and culturally sensitive way that honors the area’s history.
County officials say they will be releasing an updated list of missing people on Friday.
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