"...there are hundreds more that we’re still looking for and we will not stop until we find those people,” Agent Steven Merrill with the FBI said
More than a hundred people have been removed from a list of missing persons drawn in the aftermath of the Lahaina wildfire on Maui, Hawaii — the deadliest U.S. wildfire in decades — the FBI reported on Friday.
On Thursday night, Maui County officials in Hawaii released a list of 388 names of people who live or worked in Lahaina that had not been accounted for. Police Chief John Pelletier acknowledged in the release that the names on the list could “cause pain for folks whose loved ones are listed” but that “it will help with the investigation.”
However, FBI Honolulu Division Special Agent Steven Merrill said in a press conference posted by local news site KHON2 News a day later that more than a hundred names were taken off the list after people or their relatives came forward saying they were safe.
"We’re very thankful for the people who have reached out by phone or email,” Merrill said.
He added, “They were… reported to be safe and sound. Again, we don't take that for granted. We still understand there are hundreds more that we’re still looking for and we will not stop until we find those people.”
Merrill also noted that since the names were taken off the list, they can “devote more resources” to those still missing, and asked people to call their office to add a name if their relative was unaccounted for from the fires.
Arturo Gonzalez Hernandez told the Associated Press that he had moved away from Lahaina three years ago but still ended up on the missing persons list and called the FBI to take his name off the list.
Gonzalez told AP that an incorrect list could cause some people unnecessary stress, saying, “Some people are still struggling with the impact of so many people dying,” Gonzalez told AP.
The death toll from the Maui wildfires has risen to 115, Maui officials announced earlier this week, according to Hawaii News Now.
Maui County officials also announced on Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc, which provides electricity services to “95 percent of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents,” along with Maui Electric Company, Limited, Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc.
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Documents obtained by PEOPLE of the county's complaint alleges that the defendants "inexcusably kept their power lines energized during the forecasted high-fire danger conditions."
"They own, design, construct, operate, maintain, and repair powerlines and other equipment to transmit electricity to residents, businesses, schools, and industries in the State of Hawai‘i, including in and around the ignition points for the Maui Fires," the lawsuit stated.
The county of Maui also alleges in the lawsuit that the "defendants’ inactions caused loss of life, severe injuries, complete destruction of homes and businesses, displacement of thousands of people, and damage to many of Hawai‘i’s historic and cultural sites."
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