The death toll in Hawaii wildfires has climbed to 36 as firefighters continue their search for survivors in a town that was almost ‘wiped off the map’.
Officials have revealed that it is one of the deadliest disasters in the history of Hawaii.
All of those who were killed were in Lahaina, the town which has been ‘decimated,’ a county spokesperson said.
Mayor Richard Blissen said earlier today that 271 buildings had been burned to the ground but the number could rise as the blaze continue to cause further damage.
Authorities are having a difficult time sheltering hundreds of residents and tourists who have been evacuated.
Brian Schatz, the Democratic Senator for the state, revealed that Lahaina has been ‘almost totally burnt to the ground.’
A resident described it as ‘utter devastation…. It is far from hyperbole to say that Lahaina has been wiped off the map,’ while another said that what he witnessed was ‘like a warzone.’
Tourists spending their vacation in Hawaii are seeking temporary shelter after being ordered to leave, with desperate people jumping into the ocean to escape the fire.
Officials are reportedly awaiting a presidential declaration of emergency.
During a press conference on Thursday evening, Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke said she had flown over Lahaina and saw the damage with her very own eyes.
“(It) was just so shocking and devastating. The whole town was devastated, the whole town was decimated,” she expressed.
Emerson Timmins also described what he witnessed and told local news outlet KHON2 News: “There were cars abandoned on the road, I assume those people couldn’t get out in time.
“They probably headed to the ocean, the ones that could make it, and people leaving their homes.
“If a young person could barely get out of there with their family, then the elderly are trapped, those that are handicapped.
“There’s no way – those numbers (death toll) are much higher. It’s terrifying, to think about all those families losing their loved ones and their homes.”
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