Hawaii wildfires: Officials say death toll has dropped to 97 due to DNA tests

WAILUKU, Hawaii — Officials in Hawaii have adjusted the number of deaths from Hawaii last month to at least 97.

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In a news conference Friday afternoon, John Byrd, a forensics laboratory director with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, said that the current number of deaths should be considered a minimum, according to The Associated Press.

Previously officials said the death toll was 115. Byrd said it’s possible that the current death toll, which is at 97, could rise, the AP reported.

Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said that additional testing found that there were multiple DNA samples from some of the people who died, the AP reported.

“The number of fatalities has actually dropped from what was projected to be 115, it’s now at 97 because the anthropologists have been able to do a more thorough analysis,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green told CNN, according to Reuters.

Officials said that figuring out the death toll has been complicated due to damage from the fires as well as the chaos that erupted from people trying to escape. According to the AP, animal remains were reportedly collected with human remains as well.

Pelletier said, according to the AP, that 74 of the 97 of the deaths have been positively identified.

Maui Police Department also announced in the news conference that the number of missing people has dropped down to 31, according to KHON.

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