The head of the emergency agency in Maui, Hawaii, USA said on Wednesday (16/8) that he had “no regrets” that sirens in the area were not turned on to warn the public of forest and land fires encroaching on settlements.
Herman Andaya, director of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, defended his agency’s decision not to turn on sirens during the fire.
“We are afraid that people will go mauka,” he said, using a Hawaiian term that can mean heading into the mountains or inland. “If that happens, then they will head towards the fire.”
There were no sirens in the mountains, where the fire was spreading down.
Hawaii created what it calls the world’s largest outdoor public safety warning siren system after a tsunami in 1946 killed more than 150 people on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Andaya said the sirens were mainly used to warn of tsunami danger.
However, the Maui siren system website says sirens can be used to warn forest fires.
While the death toll rises to 110, a mobile morgue unit with additional coroners arrived in Hawaii on Tuesday (15/8) to assist with the process of sorting bodies. (rd/rs)