In a recent update that brings a glimmer of hope amidst a devastating situation, Hawaii Governor Josh Green announced that fewer people died in last month's Maui wildfires than initially reported.
The death toll has been revised down to 97 from the earlier count of 115, thanks to the efforts of federal fire investigators assisting local authorities in identifying remains.
"Thank God, fewer people passed away," Governor Green said in a video message according to NBC News.
While the toll could still rise, as there are 31 open cases under investigation, this revised number brings a small measure of relief to a community grappling with the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in over a century.
The wildfire, which completely destroyed the town of Lahaina on Maui's west coast, caused an estimated $5.5 billion in damage. Over 8,000 people are currently in temporary housing due to the fires.
House Republicans have announced a probe into the Biden administration's response to the fires, questioning how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has managed the recovery efforts.
The initial death toll was higher due to the complexities involved in identifying remains.
"When you do the first tally...the number tends to be too high," explained an official. As more analysis is conducted, the numbers are refined, offering a more accurate picture of the tragedy's scope.
While the situation remains dire, the revised death toll offers a moment of respite and hope, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, there can be small victories.