Crews Near End of Search in Maui

( – Maui authorities have said they are nearing the end of their search for victims of the island’s devastating recent wildfires, though the final death toll still remains elusive. The officially acknowledged number of 115 dead remains at or near the same number authorities first acknowledged around two weeks ago.

Those numbers have been hard to reconcile with varying statements from officials over the last three weeks that placed the number of missing persons as high as 1,200. On August 24th, Maui County administrators released a list showing 388 individuals on the island remained “unaccounted for.”

A Special Agent with the FBI later told reporters that within 24 hours of the list going public, officials could cross about 100 names off of it. The individuals were found “safe and sound,” the agent said. He reminded the public that the agency still deemed hundreds of people to be missing.

John Pelletier, the Police Chief for Maui, suggested that the delayed release of the list was intentional on the part of his department and done for reasons of sensitivity. He said the listings “will cause pain” for relatives of the missing. Pelletier went on to say that his department was “doing everything” to be as “thorough” as they could be.

Before moving to Maui, Pelletier gained notoriety in Las Vegas as the law enforcement official who oversaw the city’s response to the largest mass shooting in American history. His oversight of that investigation was referred to by many as anything but “thorough.”

According to officials in the Lahaina area, the only remaining searches that need to be carried out are water-based. Many residents took refuge in the waves as buildings around them became engulfed. Those actions were precipitated at least in part by a decision from the area’s emergency management chief not to deploy warning sirens that could have alerted locals to the incoming fires.

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