Maui emergency head quits after backlash over deadly wildfires

The head of Maui's emergency management agency has resigned days after saying he did not regret the decision to not sound powerful warning sirens as a deadly wildfire ripped through the Hawaiian town of Lahaina.

Herman Andaya had come under criticism for not activating the island-wide network as fast-moving flames bore down on the city, with survivors saying they had no warning of the blaze.

Many of those who were killed are believed to have been trapped in their homes or caught in their cars as they made a desperate last-minute bid to escape.

At least 111 people are known to have died in what was the deadliest wildfire in the United States in over a century. The final toll is expected to be considerably higher.

"Today Mayor Richard Bissen accepted the resignation of Maui Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Administrator Herman Andaya," a Maui County release said on Thursday.

"Citing health reasons, Andaya submitted his resignation effective immediately."

Andaya's decision not to activate the sirens is one of a number of perceived missteps by local officials before, during and after the blaze which have angered survivors, who say more lives could have been saved.

Independent inquiry

Criticism has swelled since the disaster, with survivors complaining there were no official warnings issued.

Mobile phone networks and the electricity supply were knocked out, limiting the channels by which alerts are usually delivered. Survivors have said they only learned the fire when they saw it tearing down their own street.

Residents have also complained that the government has been slow to help in the aftermath of the tragedy, with many saying they're getting more assistance from civil groups.

Cadaver dogs and their handlers on Thursday continued the difficult process of combing the disaster zone for more bodies.

Only a handful of bodies recovered from Lahaina have been identified so far.

Experts in forensic pathology, some of whom worked in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, are in Maui to assist with identifying badly burned remains.

US President Joe Biden is expected to visit Maui on Monday with his wife, Jill.


Source: TRT