Six People Dead, Several Unaccounted For As Fires Tear Apart Maui
Six people have been confirmed dead as wildfires rage on Maui in Hawaii.
The island’s mayor, Richard Bissen Jr., confirmed the tragic news on Thursday morning, adding several people were also unaccounted for.
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“I’m sad to report that just before coming on this, it was confirmed we’ve had six fatalities,” he said at a news conference.
“We are still in a search and rescue mode.”
The fires have burned through homes and towns, with those residing in Lahaina all sure they will return to nothing.
People rushed to the ocean to find retreat in the water and escape the smoky conditions.
As a result, the US Coast Guard said 12 people were rescued from the water off Lahaina.
Hurricane Dora is partly to blame for the spread of the fires due to intense wind gusts which have also grounded firefighting helicopters.
The National Weather Service said the hurricane, passed through the island chain at a safe distance of 805 kilometres, but was partly to blame for gusts above 97 km/h. The wind gusts also turned off power as night fell and shook homes.
Dangerous fire conditions, the result of strong winds and low humidity, were expected to last through Wednesday afternoon, the weather service said.
Refunds for travellers
Hawaiian Airlines is strongly discouraging any non-essential travel to Maui.
The airline has offered a range of options for travellers, including changing flight dates or refunds for tickets purchased.
Other airlines offering change-of-date services and refunds include Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines.
Delta Airlines are offering its customers the option of changing the dates of their flights but have so far not said they would be offering refunds to the original payment method for cancelled trips like other airlines.
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