Washington, Aug 14 (EFE).- Almost 100 people have been killed in the fires that have devastated the island of Maui, United States, in the last week, as authorities focused on continuing the search for hundreds of missing persons.
Authorities said Monday that three more bodies were found in the last few hours, raising the number of deaths to 96, although it is feared the worst is yet to come, as search teams are expected to find more bodies among the charred ruins in the resort town of Lahaina aided by sniffer dogs.
Hundreds are still missing, although many areas lack electricity or mobile coverage to access communication systems, and family and friends have mobilized on social networks asking for help to find them.
Maui Police Department Chief John Pelletier said in a press conference Saturday that the search, recovery and identification process is still in its early stages, so the death toll will increase and it is unclear where it will end.
“None of us really know,” said Pelletier, adding that the greatest devastation is in the west of the Hawaiian island, where cities like Lahaina have been almost completely destroyed.
Although authorities are being cautious when it comes to giving a figure, Pelletier himself said Thursday he estimated 1,000 people could be missing.
Pelletier said that until Saturday only 3 percent of the affected area had been inspected.
“We are going as fast as we can, but we have only been able to reach 3 percent, that is what the dogs have been looking for.”
Authorities said a system using access signs to ensure efficient traffic management and prioritize the safety of all road users would begin to operate from Monday to quicken travel to West Maui.
Posters will be issued according to the following categories: West Maui residents, West Maui resort staff, first responders, medical staff, utility staff, county staff, supply truckers and volunteers.
There are areas of Lahaina and Upper Kula where tap water is not drinkable (even after boiling) and bottled water is recommended for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, and preparing food until further notice.
To facilitate this situation, several drinking water supply points have been set up, as well as for food and other necessities, and emergency shelters are also still open. EFE