Remaining victim of deadly Maui wildfires identified

The final victim of 100 recorded in the deadly wildfires in Lahaina, Maui late last year was identified Friday by Hawaiian officials.

Lydia Coloma, 70, who also lost her husband, sister and other family members in the fire, was identified by Maui police due to the context of where remains were found, according to The Associated Press. She was from the Philippines, according to her sister Tina Acosta, who also noted that she didn’t know the reason behind why final identification took so long.

“We were waiting,” she said, the AP reported.

Figuring out the identities of those who died in the wildfire has been a challenging and lengthy task for Maui officials. Cadaver dogs and forensic experts searched the ash for potentially cremated bodies, with authorities getting DNA samples from family members of victims.

DNA testing resulted in the death toll dropping in September, but it climbed back up in October, when some succumbed to injuries and additional remains were found by police. The number of those who are still unaccounted for has also dipped just a few, per the Maui Police Department.

President Biden visited Maui following the historic wildfires on the Hawaiian island and vowed to help with efforts to rebuild.

“You’ve shown such absolute incredible courage, and that’s not hyperbole,” Biden said. “And I want you to know that on behalf of the United States of America and all of the nation, the American people stand with you.”

The president called the devastation caused by the fires “overwhelming.”

“I also want all of you to know the country grieves with you, stands with you and will do everything possible to help you recover, rebuild and respect culture and traditions when the rebuilding takes place,” Biden said.

The Associated Press contributed.

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