In a story that has shocked the local population and startled the international community, sixty survivors of massive wildfires ravaging the Hawaiian county of Maui were rescued from a single house during an intense search mission over the past week.
The latest development is both a miracle and a tragedy – local authorities have reported the death toll due to the fires has revised to 106, with over 1,000 people also still unaccounted for.
The group of sixty survivors, many of whom were previously unaccounted for, were found taking refuge in an isolated private residence, where electricity and phone lines had failed.
Mayor Richard Bissen announced the impressive discovery during a press conference on Monday, illustrating the struggles that survivors have experienced without access to basic communication tools.
“We discovered yesterday that there was a family that was housing 60 people at a home, on the west side, and many of those folks were unaccounted for, and they’ve now been reunited with their families,” he told reporters.
Additional details about the group continue to remain unknown, but dailymail.com photos reveal a glimpse of the treacherous rescue mission taking place on the island.
Exclusive images show how rescue efforts are still ongoing, even as hope fades that any will be found alive in the demolished town of Lahaina.
The harrowing photos expose the devastation endured by locals; a burned-out parking lot, a demolished warehouse, and a gas station thrashed by the flames.
That said, in an act of resilience, authorities are using the term ‘unaccounted for’ instead of missing because it allows for survivors without communication to still be located during the search missions.
In addition, in light of the alarming death toll, local police chief John Pelletier expressed the reverence required for the search during a news conference late Monday.
“It’s not just ash on your clothing when you take it off. It’s our loved ones,” he said.
Meanwhile, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen revealed that only 25 percent of the 2,200 burned buildings in Lahaina have been searched, although authorities expect to reach 85 percent completion by the weekend.
To complicate the process, the 20 cadaver dogs providing assistance can only work in 15 minute intervals due to the extreme temperatures, as well as windy conditions.
U.S. President Biden finally spoke out on the tragedy on Tuesday evening, after a week of silence.
During a speech in Milwaukee, Biden confirmed he plans to visit the stricken town once rescue operations are complete but appeared to confuse Maui with the neighboring Big Island.
Although the Federal Government has yet to receive significant praise for its relief efforts, Biden intends to travel to Hawaii “as soon as we can”, “[to] make sure we got everything they need.”
Prior to his visit, the President and First Lady will vacation at Lake Tahoe, a short drive from former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul’s vacation home.
A shocking tale of devastation and struggles, another rescue mission is currently taking place in Maui, and authorities are determined to find any remaining survivors before the destruction takes its final toll.