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Death toll from wildfires in Hawaii reaches 53

President Biden has approved a declaration of disaster.

The death toll from the wildfires in Hawaii have reached 53.

US President Joe Biden has approved a declaration of disaster in Maui County which means federal aid can go out to affected locals.

“Anyone who’s lost a loved one or who’s home has been damaged or destroyed is going to get help immediately,” Biden said. “Every asset we have will be available to them, and we’ve seen their homes destroyed and some have lost loved ones, and it’s not over yet.”

Hawaii Governor Josh Green said officials expect the fires to become the state’s deadliest natural disaster since the 1961 tsunami that killed 61 people.

The blaze, which led to power outages and evacuations affecting 11,000 residents, was escalated by the powerful winds from Hurricane Dora.

Search and rescue is the first priority, according to Adam Weintraub, a spokesperson for the Hawaii emergency management agency, but rescue teams are not able to get access to some areas until the fire lines are secure and safe to enter.

“We are still in life preservation mode. Search and rescue is still a primary concern,” Weintraub said.

Maui County officials said the wildfire in Lahaina Town is 80 percent contained, and the second fire in the Pulahu area is 70 percent contained.

Photo: Lahaina by Kent Buckingham available HERE and used under a Creative Commons license. This image has not been modified.

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