Hawaii governor says fewer people died in Maui wildfires, death toll revised from 115 down to 97

“Thank God, fewer people passed away,” Gov. Green said in a video on X, the platform previously called Twitter. 
Maui wildfire, Aug. 11, 2023, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) announced on Friday that fewer people died in the devastating Maui wildfires than previously reported. 

Green said that the death toll was revised from 115 down to 97 after investigations by federal and local authorities, The Hill reported.

“Thank God, fewer people passed away,” he said in a video on X, the platform previously called Twitter

According to Green the death toll could rise again. Currently, there are 31 open cases that are being investigated and only 74 of the dead have been identified.

“We look at body bags that come in and we do an initial inventory and we assess how many people are represented there,” Defense Department lab director John Byrd said, according to The Hill. “When you do the first tally of all those that have come in, the number tends to be too high because as you begin to do more analysis and examination you realize that actually you’ve got two bags that were the same person or you have two bags that were the same two people but you didn’t realize that.”

“The numbers start a little too high on the morgue side and eventually settles until at some point it’s going to be a final accurate number,” he added. “I would say we’re not quite there yet.”

The Aug. 8 wildfires destroyed the historic town of Lahaina and has been described by officials as the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates the damage to be approximately $5.5 billion dollars. 

U.S. House Republicans have announced two separate hearings on the deadly wildfires and the aftermath. One will be looking into the federal response to the disaster and another will bring in executives of a utility and two state agencies to testify.