A catastrophic wildfire, intensified by powerful winds, has swept through the Hawaiian island of Maui, leading to the tragic loss of at least 36 lives and causing widespread destruction.
The town of Lahaina, known for its rich history tracing back to the 18th century, has been particularly hard-hit, with many describing the devastation as reminiscent of a war zone.
Residents and tourists have been desperately searching for escape routes amidst the advancing flames and thick smoke. Ongoing rescue and evacuation operations are in full swing.
Local authorities, including Mayor Richard Bissen, are at the forefront of managing this crisis. They are coordinating rescue operations and providing assistance to the affected.
The death toll, which was initially reported as six, has now tragically risen to 36, making this one of the deadliest disasters in Hawaii’s history.
While specific details about the casualties have not been provided, the primary focus remains on locating and assisting the affected individuals.
Due to the severity of the fires, over 2,100 individuals have sought shelter in the island’s emergency facilities. Some have even taken the drastic step of seeking refuge in the ocean to escape the flames and smoke.
Power outages have been widespread, impacting shelters, hotels, and other facilities. Acting Governor Sylvia Luke has urged tourists to reconsider their plans to visit Maui, emphasizing the imminent danger and the strain on the island’s resources and healthcare system.
The County of Maui has reported several road closures via its Twitter account and has specifically advised against traveling to Lahaina. Given the heavy traffic from evacuations, county spokesperson Mahina Martin has recommended that those not in evacuation zones remain in their homes to prevent exacerbating the situation.
— County of Maui (@CountyofMaui) August 9, 2023
In a desperate bid to escape the inferno, some individuals have jumped into the ocean. Reports from CBS indicate that the Coast Guard has been actively involved in rescue operations, especially near Lahaina. The island’s hospitals are treating numerous burn patients, further highlighting the gravity of the situation.
Governor Josh Green has expressed his sorrow over the extensive damage, noting that a significant portion of Lahaina has been reduced to ruins, displacing numerous local families.
With information from Hawaii News Now