Thursday, 7 Dec 2023

Devastation of Hawaii fires laid bare in frightening Nasa satellite images

Satellite images show wildfires ripping through a historic Hawaiian town where 36 people have been killed.

Pictures show active flames spreading throughout the town of Lāhainā on the island of Maui.

The path of the flames can be seen in the images captured by NASA, which reveal the fires have spread along Lahaina’s coast.

The town’s harbour has been burnt in the process, with officials saying 271 structures have so far been destroyed.

Residents have jumped into the ocean to escape the flames, with the US coast guard saying they have rescued at least 14 people from the water.

‘As the firefighting efforts continue, 36 total fatalities have been discovered today amid the active Lāhainā fire,’ a Maui county press release issued Wednesday evening local time said.

‘No other details are available at this time.’

At least three wildfires have been raging on the island of Maui since Tuesday.

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The fires were whipped up by a combination of low humidity and winds from Hurricane Dora, the National Weather Service said.

Aerial video from Lahaina shows dozens of homes and businesses damaged, including on Front Street, where tourists once gathered to shop and dine.

Smoking heaps of rubble lay piled high next to the waterfront, boats in the harbor were scorched, and gray smoke hovered over the leafless skeletons of charred trees.

As winds eased somewhat on Maui, some flights resumed Wednesday, allowing pilots to view the full scope of the devastation.

‘It’s horrifying. I’ve flown here 52 years and I’ve never seen anything come close to that,’ said Richard Olsten, a helicopter pilot for a tour company.

‘We had tears in our eyes.’

Lāhainā is home to 12,000 people and is a popular tourist destination.

Around 2,100 residents have already been displaced by the wildfires, and thousands remain without power.

Parts of West Maui lost 911 services as cell towers on the island fell during the storm.

Recovery may take years, lieutenant governor Sylvia Luke said, with a school, church and business among the buildings damaged by the blaze.

‘This is a really tragic moment, for not just Maui County, not just the people of Maui, it’s for the entire state,’ she told reporters.

‘We just want to thank so many people who have stepped up to help.’

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