At least 53 people have been killed as a result of wildfires in the United States' Hawaii as firefighting operations continue, reported CNN citing Maui County's statement.
In a statement, Maui County said, "As firefighting efforts continue, 17 additional fatalities have been confirmed today amid the active Lahaina fire. This brings the death toll to 53 people."
Over 14,000 people have been shifted from Maui Island on Wednesday as wildfires continued to wreak havoc. In a news release, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority said that an additional 14,500 people are expected to be shipped out by the end of Thursday, as per CNN.
The wildfire devastated the Lahaina area of Maui which is now 80 per cent contained, the county said on Thursday. According to PowerOutage.US, around 11,000 people in Maui continue to live without power.
State and county crews continue to make efforts to clear roads. However, entry into Lahaina remains restricted, CNN reported. The Pulehu fire in Kihei is 70 per cent contained and firefighters are still determining the containment of the Upcountry fire in the centre of the island, where state forestry workers are making efforts on the northern slopes of Haleakala.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden on Thursday declared Hawaii wildfires a "major disaster" and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas impacted by the wildfires since August 8. Biden's action makes federal funding available to impacted people in Maui County.
A White House statement said, "Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires beginning on August 8, 2023, and continuing."
The assistance announced by Biden includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help people and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster, according to the White House statement.
Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Maui County and assistance for emergency protective measures for Hawaii County. Maona N Ngwira of FEMA has been appointed to coordinate Federal recovery operations in the affected areas, according to the White House statement.