Biden to visit Maui wildfire disaster site, aid in hand

US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Hawaii on Monday to survey the devastation from deadly wildfires that destroyed much of the Maui resort town of Lahaina last week and killed at least 110 people.

Biden will get a first-hand look at the damage and meet with first responders, survivors and federal, state and local officials, the White House said in a statement.

“I remain committed to delivering everything the people of Hawaii need as they recover from this disaster,” Biden said in a post on the social media platform X, previously known as Twitter.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green has warned the death toll could double.

The inferno spread rapidly from grasslands outside town into Lahaina last Tuesday, catching people by surprise and charring a 5-square-mile (13-square-km) area of town in hours. The fire destroyed 2,200 buildings and caused an estimated $5.5 billion in damage, officials said.

On Wednesday Biden approved Hawaii’s request that the federal government reimburse the full cost of 30 days of the emergency work expected to be carried out over the next four months, said Deanne Criswell, head of the US Federal Emergency Management Administration, during a news briefing at the White House.

The federal government so far has disbursed $2.3 million in assistance to families, and approved more than 1,300 registrations for assistance, Criswell said in Wednesday’s briefing.

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