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    As Death Toll from Maui Wildfire Reaches 93, Effort to Find and Identify the Dead Is Just Beginning

    As Death Toll from Maui Wildfire Reaches 93, Effort to Find and Identify the Dead Is Just Beginning

    LAHAINA, Hawaii — As the death toll from a wildfire that razed a historic Maui town climbed to 93, authorities warned that the effort to find and identify the dead was still in its early stages. The blaze is already the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

    Crews with cadaver dogs have covered just 3% of the search area, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said Saturday.

    “We've got an area that we have to contain that is at least 5 square miles, and it is full of our loved ones,” he said, noting that the number of dead is likely to grow and “none of us really know the size of it yet.”

    He spoke as federal emergency workers picked through the ashen moonscape left by the fire that razed the centuries-old town of Lahaina. Teams marked the ruins of homes with a bright orange “X” to indicate an initial search, and “HR” when they found human remains.

    Pelletier said identifying the dead is challenging because “we pick up the remains and they fall apart.” The remains have been through “a fire that melted metal.” Only two people have been identified so far, he said.

    During the search efforts, the barks of cadaver dogs alerting their handlers to potential remains echoed over the hot, colorless landscape.

    “It will certainly be the worst natural disaster that Hawaii ever faced,” Gov. Josh Green said as he toured the devastation on historic Front Street. “We can only wait and support those who…

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