WAILUKU, Hawaii — The list of people who may be unaccounted for in the wake of the Maui wildfires is now between 1,000 and 1,100, officials said Tuesday.
Those numbers are expected to change and “that doesn’t mean necessarily … that these people are in fact missing,” said Steven Merrill, FBI special agent in charge of the Honolulu field office.
“Every day the numbers will change,” Merrill said. “That being said, the number that we’re most concerned about is obviously trying to clear people from the list. And that has reliably gone down every day.”
The revised number comes as more information is provided about those who may be missing in the wake of the fires in Maui, which so far have 115 confirmed dead.
A wind-whipped wildfire on Aug. 8 devastated the town of Lahaina in West Maui. Other fires also erupted on the island.
The list of between 1,000 and 1,100 names are people who have been reported as missing or unaccounted for, Merrill said. “We’re considering everybody on that list until we can prove they shouldn’t be on that list,” he said.
Some of the information is incomplete — officials may have a first name and that is all, or they may not have a gender, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said. That can make it hard to verify who is missing.
Authorities have been asking family members to provide DNA to help, and have assured the information will not be kept or used for any other purpose.
Two days ago, Bissen said the number was 850 after the FBI had reconciled various lists of the unaccounted for.
That was the first firm number authorities had provided since the fires swept through. In a news conference last week, authorities said it was likely more than 1,000 but were not specific.
Some of the same names have been found on multiple lists of those unaccounted for, Merrill said.
In some cases, the FBI and others looking to verify information about those reported as missing are not getting responses, which Merrill said has been frustrating.
“We don’t get necessarily calls back, replies,” Merrill said.
“We need more information, and if you’ve been shy out there about contacting Maui police or the FBI or anyone else to provide more information, please come forward,” he said.