California woman becomes first tourist identified among 115 victims of Maui wildfire

Theresa Cook, 72, of El Dorado County, was among eight more people identified as victims

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 24 August 2023 05:57 BST
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A California woman has become the first tourist known to have been identified as a victim of the devastating Maui wildfires that have killed 115 people.

Maui County officials said on Tuesday that 72-year-old Theresa Cook was among the eight more people identified as victims.

Cook was a resident of Pollock Pines in El Dorado County and was vacationing in Maui when the wildfires struck.

She was last seen near the Banyan tree at 5.30pm, around the time the fire raced through the area on 8 August, according to ABC10.

She was identified along with seven others who died in the devastating fires as authorities continued the painstakingly long process of DNA checks of charred bodies.

So far, 21 victims of the devastating fires have been identified that burnt down the historic town of Lahaina.

Part of the reason why the identification process has been slow is due to the state that many bodies were found in after the blazing wildfires moved quickly through Lahania.

Some 1,000-1,100 names remain on the FBI’s tentative, unconfirmed list of people unaccounted for after wildfires destroyed the historic seaside community of Lahaina on Maui, according to ABC10.

But the family assistance centre so far has collected DNA from just 104 families, Julie French, who is helping lead efforts to identify remains by DNA analysis, told the outlet.

Hawaii officials are not releasing any names of those missing as a mark of respect to the families.

Authorities have confirmed 115 deaths following the deadliest wildfire in more than a century in the US.

They also pleaded with relatives of those missing to come forward and give DNA samples, saying the low number provided so far threatens to hinder efforts to identify any remains discovered in the ashes.

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