Two weeks after a deadly wildfire in Maui, over 800 people are still unaccounted for. Officials are facing challenges in determining the number of deaths and how many people are safe but haven’t checked in. In a similar situation in 2018, authorities in California published a list of missing persons, which helped identify many who had survived. However, Maui authorities have chosen not to publicize their list due to concerns about privacy rules and further traumatizing families. Currently, there have been 115 confirmed deaths. The FBI’s Honolulu office is assisting in locating the missing by collecting DNA samples from relatives. The American Red Cross is also working to reunite families and generate its own list of unaccounted persons. Efforts include cross-checking names with emergency shelter registration lists, calling hospitals, and searching social media. Identifying human remains after a wildfire is a long and difficult process, and some victims may not have any remains left for DNA testing. Debris removal and excavation further complicate recovery efforts. Many of the confirmed dead so far are senior citizens, who face a higher risk due to frailty and difficulty escaping. US President Joe Biden visited the devastated areas and provided over $8.5 million in aid to affected families.
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