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[News]Maui fire: First victims named as death toll reaches 106


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The first names of people killed by wildfires in Maui have been released by officials, one week after at least 106 people died on the Hawaiian island. Just two people - Robert Dyckman, 74, and Buddy Jantoc, 79 - were named. Three others were identified but their names are being withheld until their families are notified. The catastrophic fire, which destroyed the historic town of Lahaina within hours, has been followed by a slow and gruelling search for victims. Mr Jantoc's body was discovered at his home in a senior-living facility in Lahaina, the New York Times reported. Relatives told the newspaper that he was known by family as "Mr Aloha" and regaled them with tales of his heyday as a bass guitarist playing alongside Carlos Santana and George Benson.

 

"I'm hoping he was asleep," his daughter-in-law said. "I hope to God he did not suffer." Twenty sniffer dogs trained to detect bodies have led teams on a block-by-block search of the wreckage, a 5sq mile (13sq km) area now filled with twisted metal and other debris. Another 20 canine teams are expected to join the search, said Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) Administrator Deanne Criswell on Wednesday. "This is a really hard disaster. And this is a really difficult search operation," she said told reporters in Washington DC.

 

"This is also going to be a very long and hard recovery." As of Tuesday evening, 27% of the disaster site had been searched, Governor Josh Green said in a televised address. He said the number of dead could climb significantly and even double over the next 10 days. Officials must then complete the difficult work of identifying the dead, a process complicated by the severity of the victims' burns and one that requires DNA samples and forensic experts. Thirty specialists from federal mortuary teams are already in Maui and will soon be joined by more from the US defence department. US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Hawaii on Monday, the White House said in a statement. Mr Biden was asked by a reporter over the weekend about the rising death toll in Hawaii and responded: "No comment.

 

" The president's apparent delay in visiting Maui, as well as that remark, has angered many locals, who told the BBC they see his absence as a slap in the face. "Hey Mr President, how about Hawaii?" said Chaymen Enomoto. "'No comment'? That is a big screw you." Mr Biden said on Tuesday that he had not yet visited because of concerns it would divert resources and attention from the humanitarian response. Jill Biden will accompany him to Hawaii, he said. "I don't want to get in the way. I've been to too many disaster areas," he said. "I want to be sure we don't disrupt ongoing recovery efforts."

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66518502

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