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News / Nation & World

Hawaii officials say DNA tests drop Maui fire death count to 97

By Associated Press
Published: September 15, 2023, 4:39pm

WAILUKU, Hawaii — Authorities in Hawaii have adjusted the number of deaths from the deadly Maui wildfires down to at least 97 people.

Previously officials said they believed at least 115 people had died in the fires, but further testing showed they had multiple DNA samples from some of those who died.

John Byrd, a forensics laboratory director with the U.S. Department of Defense, said during a press conference Friday afternoon that the current number of dead should be considered a minimum, because it’s possible that toll could rise.

Determining the death toll from the Aug. 8 wildfires in Lahaina has been especially complicated because of the damage caused by the fire and the chaos as people tried to escape, officials said. In some cases, animal remains were inadvertently collected along with human remains.

So far, 74 of the deceased have been positively identified, said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier.

The Lahaina fire is the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century.