The Maui blaze is now the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than 100 years. However, vacationing President Joe Biden's recent reaction to being asked about the American tragedy in Hawaii has been deemed as "heartless" by many.
As of Sunday, the death toll had risen to 93 people, plus more than 1,000 are still missing, according to Newsweek. The Lahaina wildfire is the deadliest in the United States since the 1918 Cloquet fire that killed 453 people in drought-stricken northern Minnesota.
Cadaver dog teams are slowly searching the remnants of the scorched region for human remains. As of Saturday, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said the cadaver dog teams had cleared just 3% of the search area due to the harsh, burnt terrain.
Pelletier said the number of casualties is expected to increase.
"We've got an area that we have to contain that is at least 5 square miles, and it is full of our loved ones," Pelletier said.
Pelletier explained it has been challenging to identify the deceased because "we pick up the remains and they fall apart," adding that the remains have been through "a fire that melted metal."
In anticipation of many more casualties, the FBI has set up a mobile refrigerated morgue to store dead bodies in Lahaina, according to the Daily Mail.
Death toll rises in Maui | WNTwww.youtube.com
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said over 1,600 people are being housed in shelters, and possibly thousands of displaced people need sanctuary.
"It will certainly be the worst natural disaster that Hawaii ever faced," Green declared. "We can only wait and support those who are living. Our focus now is to reunite people when we can and get them housing and get them health care, and then turn to rebuilding."
According to Maui County officials, 2,207 buildings have been damaged or destroyed, with an estimated 87% of the structures being residential. An estimated 80% of the town of Lahaina was destroyed by the devastating wildfires. There is an estimated $5.52 billion worth of damage in Maui County. There are 2,170 acres burned.
PBS reported, "Maui water officials warned Lahaina and Kula residents not to drink running water, which may be contaminated even after boiling, and to only take short, lukewarm showers in well-ventilated rooms to avoid possible chemical vapor exposure."
President Joe Biden spent the weekend vacationing at his beach home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
On Sunday evening, Bloomberg White House correspondent Justin Sink wrote on Twitter, "After a couple hours on the Rehoboth beach, POTUS was asked about the rising death toll in Hawaii, 'No comment,' he said before heading home."
Biden's lack of providing a comment on the tragedy in Hawaii caused disheartened and furious reactions from netizens.
Radio host Jason Rantz: "Wow. How embarrassing and heartless."
Writer Pradheep J. Shanker: "Absolutely embarrassing. The largest wildfire tragedy in modern American history, and the President has nothing significant to say about it?"
Writer Rita Panahi: "The president who promised to restore decency and empathy."
Commentator Stephen L. Miller: "100 people dead. Entire communities wiped out. President of compassion. Just incredible stuff. Biden is like 'well at least I'm not on THAT beach.'"
Liberal journalist Yashar Ali: "Absolutely terrible."
On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris was asked if she or President Biden would visit Maui in the aftermath of the apocalyptic wildfires.
Harris responded, "We don’t want to distract from the resources that need to go in to the victims of this tragedy, and of course the needs of the first responders have to be able to focus on that issue and not worry about focusing on us [because] we’re there."
Harris added, "We are coordinating federal resources to swiftly get there to support the work in terms of recovery, but to just support the folks on the ground. It is tragic."
Following the last major disaster – the train derailment that released toxic chemicals into East Palestine, Ohio – President Biden said in March he would visit the catastrophe site "at some point." Biden has yet to travel to East Palestine.
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