Viral social media posts allege that more than 180 bodies washed ashore on Lanai, an island east of Maui, in the aftermath of the deadly wildfires. That’s not true.
The wildfires that erupted on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Aug. 8 have become the deadliest natural disaster in state history.
The fires, fueled by dry conditions and powerful winds, burned thousands of residential and commercial buildings to the ground. While the wildfires were raging in several locations, dramatic video surfaced of people jumping into the ocean in order to escape the blaze.
A VERIFY viewer recently reached out to ask about people who fled to the ocean. The viewer said they heard reports that more than 180 bodies washed ashore on Lanai, an island east of Maui.
Did bodies wash ashore on Lanai following the Maui wildfires?
No, bodies didn’t wash ashore on Lanai following the Maui wildfires.
WHAT WE FOUND
In an email to VERIFY sent on Aug. 29, the Maui Police Department said “to date, no remains have washed ashore on Lanai.”
Lanai, an island east of Maui, is policed by the Maui Police Department and governed by the Maui County government.
In an email to VERIFY, the Maui County mayor’s office said claims that bodies have appeared on the shores of Lanai are false. The U.S. Coast Guard, which has helped with search and rescue efforts following the deadly wildfires, also confirmed there have been no reports of bodies found on Lanai beaches.
On the County of Maui’s Instagram page, officials also dispelled the rumor on Aug. 25, saying claims of dead bodies from Maui washing up on Lanai are false.
“NO! There have been no confirmed reports of the deceased washing up on Lanai shores. Please be careful not to share misinformation,” the Instagram post said.
According to the Maui Police Department, there have been 115 confirmed fatalities so far from the fires. During a press conference on Aug. 29, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said search and rescue crews have completed searching in urban areas on land for victims. Pelletier said search and rescue crews are searching the last remaining areas, which include a four mile long stretch of ocean.
Since authorities began identifying the deceased, the Maui Police Department has published daily updates on the number of confirmed fatalities. Maui police have also shared the name, age and place of residence for the deceased, which is published after that person’s next of kin has been notified.
On Aug. 28, Maui police released this information in their latest brief:
- Total fatalities: 115
- Individuals identified, the family notified: 45
- Individuals identified, family not located/notified: 6
According to information from Maui police, most of the deceased were from Lahaina, the historic seaside community demolished in the blaze. As of Aug. 29, the Lahaina fire was at 90% containment.
On Aug. 24, the County of Maui released an updated list of people the county believes are still missing as a result of the fires. A total of 388 people were still unaccounted for at the time the list was published, the report said.
“We’re releasing this list of names today [Aug. 24] because we know that it will help with the investigation,” Pelletier said. “We also know that once those names come out, it can and will cause pain for folks whose loved ones are listed. This is not an easy thing to do, but we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to make this investigation as complete and thorough as possible.”
As of Aug. 24, an additional 1,732 people who were originally reported as being unaccounted for had since been found safe, the county press release said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/verify/wildfires-verify/maui-wildfire-victims-bodies-have-not-washed-ashore-lanai/536-72906aa9-547e-4683-a05f-88838425bde0 Bodies did not wash up on Lanai after Maui wildfires