Joe Biden Declares Maui A Disaster Zone As Death Toll Rises To 36

U.S. president Joe Biden has declared Maui a disaster zone after 36 people died in the devastating wildfires.

Mr Biden has pledged federal assistance, which includes grants for temporary housing and repairs, low-cost loans to cover damaged uninsured properties and other programs for residents and businesses who have lost in the fires.

“Anyone who’s lost a loved one, whose home has been damaged or destroyed is going to get help immediately,” Mr Biden said.

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At this stage, officials say 271 structures had been damaged or destroyed across about 2,000 acres of land, while dozens have been injured.

Six fires continue to burn on Maui and the Big Island with the Lahaina blaze believed to be 80 per cent contained and the Pulehu fire 70 per cent.

Official know they still have a lot of work to do which also includes the primary focus on search and rescue.

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

“Our search and rescue teams from Maui and supporting agencies are not able to do their job until the fire lines are secure and they’re sure that they’re going to be able to get to those areas safely.”

He asked for patience as recovery efforts continue before asking the question on what went wrong to cause such a catastrophe.

“I think that there is a great temptation to shift immediately to what went wrong, who’s to blame. What we have here is a natural disaster,” he said.

“There may have been questions that need to be examined about whether it was handled in the right way. But we still got people in danger.

“We still have people who don’t have homes. We still have people who can’t find their loved ones.”

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