Maui's Number of Missing Changes Dramatically

Of the 388 people verified as missing, more than 100 say they're safe
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2023 8:51 AM CDT
Updated Aug 26, 2023 5:30 AM CDT
In Torched Maui, a Shred of 'Positive News'
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden look at a burned car with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green and his wife Jaime Green as they visit areas devastated by the Maui wildfires, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
UPDATE Aug 26, 2023 5:30 AM CDT

Almost as soon as Maui's number of missing changed dramatically, it may have changed dramatically again. The AP reports that within a day of officials releasing the names of the 388 people who were verified as still missing Thursday, more than 100 of those names might be able to be removed from that list. That's how many people, or relatives of people, on the list had come forward as of Friday to say they were safe; the FBI is reviewing the information to confirm before the names are removed. The death toll from the Hawaiian island's devastating wildfires currently stands at 115, and some of the names on the list are known to be people who are among that number but whose remains have not yet been positively identified.

Aug 25, 2023 8:51 AM CDT

Late Thursday brought a sprinkling of good news on the Hawaiian island of Maui, as the number of people unaccounted for after the Aug. 8 wildfire in Lahaina was cut by two-thirds. There are 388 people now missing, down from more than 1,000 earlier this week, Maui County officials say, per NPR. For the first time, the county published a "validated list" of names of those unaccounted for. For a person to make the list, they had to be reported missing by an individual who provided a verified contact number. "We're releasing this list of names today because we know that it will help with the investigation," said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier. Even if it "will cause pain for folks whose loved ones are listed ... we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to make this investigation as complete and thorough as possible."

At least 115 people died, police said Monday, per VOA. County officials had searched all single-story residential properties in the fire zone as of Monday, though searches of multi-story buildings continue. The FBI has been matching DNA samples to human remains, identifying 35 of the deceased so far. Earlier Thursday, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said agents were also working to "un-duplicate" those reported missing, adding he expected the number of names to "decrease very significantly." "There is positive news in this number, because when this process began, the missing person list contained over 2,000 names," Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said, per NPR. "If you recognize a name on the list and know the person to be safe, or if you have additional information about the person that may help locate them, please contact the FBI," the county said. (More Hawaii stories.)

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