Disaster management questioned after Maui fire kills 89

13 Aug 2023 03:19pm
Burned houses and buildings are pictured in the aftermath of a wildfire, is seen in Lahaina, western Maui, Hawaii on Aug 12, 2023. (Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)
Burned houses and buildings are pictured in the aftermath of a wildfire, is seen in Lahaina, western Maui, Hawaii on Aug 12, 2023. (Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)
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NEW YORK - Forest and brush fires are confirmed to have killed 89 people on the Hawaiian island of Maui, and more are feared dead, reported German Press Agency (dpa) quoting local authorities.

Questions are also growing louder about whether the authorities could have responded much better to what has become one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States.

Professional surfer Kai Lenny complained in a video on Instagram about how a lack of government approval had slowed down aid deliveries, although a flight for the delivery of medicines was later approved.

Lenny said he himself has been using a jet ski to deliver necessities to people across the water because many roads are closed.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) said Saturday that about a dozen federal agencies were engaged in relief efforts for fire victims. About 150 FEMA personnel, including search and rescue teams, were already on Maui, he said, with more on the way.

There had also been criticism that no warning sirens were used on Maui at the beginning. The rescue work was further complicated by the fact that the small town of Lahaina in the north and south can only be reached via one large access road.

The town has been hit particularly hard, with many streets there looking like a war zone.

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There had also been complaints that an evacuation may have been ordered too late, according to a Facebook post by the New York Times newspaper. There had been reports from the authorities that the fires were under control.

Fire Chief Bradford Ventura had said at a news conference that the fires had spread surprisingly quickly and that it had previously been "nearly impossible" to order evacuations quickly enough. - BERNAMA-dpa

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