By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
HONOLULU, USA (Worthy News)— The governor of the U.S. island state of Hawaii has described wildfires here as “catastrophic,” with the confirmed death toll rising to 96.
Josh Green said at least hundreds are missing on the Hawaii island of Maui, where 80 percent of the historic seaside town Lahaina is “gone.”
The Governor cautioned that those unaccounted for are not presumed dead but that hundreds have been left without communication and that their safety is unclear.
“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 added.
Survivors meanwhile described their escapes from the flames, with one man telling reporters: “Everything is just red; it’s all dust and wind.” Many were forced to dive into the ocean before being picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Tens of thousands of visitors have been evacuated. At the same time, 11,000 people remain without power on the island’s western side following the worst and deadliest wildfires in the known history of Hawaii state.
Firefighters on Friday struggled to contain Maui’s wildfires, which began on Tuesday and were fuelled by winds from a hurricane.
U.S. President Joe Biden issued a “major disaster declaration” which releases funds for recovery, Worthy News reported earlier.
Yet that help did little to save Lahaina, where Christian historic sites, including a landmark church and former missionary outpost, were among the buildings that went up in flames.
Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said that the historic town had been wiped out. “It’s all gone. None of it’s there. It’s all burnt to the ground,” he stressed in emotionally charged comments.
The wildfires continued to devastate Lahaina, with more than 1,700 buildings and billions of dollars in property destroyed.
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