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Maui fires: Forensics lowers death toll to 97

Although authorities welcomed the reduction of 18 deaths from the official tally, they clarified that the figure is not yet definitive.

(Cordon Press / )

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"Thank God, fewer people have passed away," said Josh Green, governor of Hawaii, as he announced a decrease in the death toll from the wildfires that ravaged Maui.

It was previously estimated that there were 115 dead, but forensic analysis has reduced the official figure to 97. However, in reporting this update in a video on X, formerly Twitter, Green warned that this number could still change. There are 31 open cases, and "not all who have been lost have been identified".

Medical experts explained that the reduction was due to duplications, because in some cases it was not possible to visually identify that different sets of remains belonged to the same people. DNA testing has resolved this error. Although, as the governor said, they insisted that while they review and re-review the recovered remnants, this "data is fluid."

Maui Police Chief John Pelletier stressed the importance of missing persons reports. These were key, he said, to updating the figures. That's why he asked those who know someone missing after the fire to report it to police.

Pelletier also asked for patience: "We talked about doing it fast or doing it right. We are doing it right." Therefore, he announced that regular press conferences will be held on Fridays to update the status of the investigations.

While victim identification continues, reconstruction and disposal of hazardous materials continues, along with relocation. There are more than 7,400 people in hotels that the Hawaii government wants to place in rented housing for 18 months.

Officials aim to reopen West Maui on Oct. 8.