Fire damage is shown in the Wahikuli Terrace neighborhood in the fire ravaged town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii, US, on August 15, 2023. (Reuters)

President Biden to visit fire-hit Hawaii next week: White House

AFP, Washington

President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden will visit Hawaii next week after the deadliest US wildfire in over a century killed more than 100 people there, the White House said on Wednesday.

Biden and the first lady on Monday will “meet with first responders, survivors, as well as federal, state, and local officials” on Maui , according to a White House press release.

“The President continues to marshal a whole-of-government re-sponse to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaii need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster,” the statement continued.

State governor Josh Green has repeatedly warned that the final toll from last week’s inferno, which levelled the historic town of Lahaina, would grow significantly, urging Hawaiians to gird for a number that could be two or three times its present level of 106.

Biden quickly declared a natural disaster in Hawaii, allowing the deployment of emergency assistance from the federal government, and has talked several times with Green.

But he was criticized by the Republican opposition for what they characterized as a timid response to the fires.

The president mentioned the disaster at the start of a speech last Thursday in Salt Lake City, Utah, did not speak publicly when the death toll soared over the weekend.

On Tuesday, Biden, on a visit to a factory in Wisconsin, again de-voted the beginning of his speech to the Pacific archipelago, and assured the inhabitants that they would be granted assistance.

The White House said Biden had been in close contact with Hawaiian leaders and federal emergency officials, who had advised that “search and recovery efforts are expected to be at a stage early next week to allow for a presidential visit.”

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