Hundreds Missing as Maui Rescue Efforts Continue

( – As rescue and recovery efforts continue on the Hawaiian island of Maui, the head of the island’s Emergency Management Agency resigned suddenly on Thursday amid significant criticism over the agency’s response to the wildfires that killed at least 111 people and left another 1,100 to 1,300 missing, CBS News reported.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Emergency Management chief Herman Andaya was grilled over the decision not to activate the outdoor warning siren system used to notify residents of natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, wildfires, tsunamis, and flooding.

Andaya argued that the public has been “trained” to move to higher ground when the siren sounds and if the siren went off last Tuesday, residents would have moved to the mountainside, putting them directly in the path of the fire.

The Emergency Management Agency opted instead to alert the public using the Wireless Emergency Alert system that sends text alerts to cell phones and the Emergency Alert System that broadcasts on television and radio.

However, residents reported that they received no text alerts on their phones and since the electricity was out in the area, televisions and radios would have had little effect.

According to CBS News, Andaya has no experience in disaster response.

When asked about his lack of experience on Wednesday, Andaya said the claim that he is unqualified is not correct. He said before he was hired in 2017, he served as deputy director of Hawaii’s Department of Housing and Human Concerns and also was the chief of staff for the Maui County mayor for 11 years.

In announcing Andaya’s resignation on Thursday, Maui County officials said that he resigned due to “health reasons.”

While the cause of the wildfires is still under investigation, the Hawaii Attorney General’s office has launched an investigation into the local government’s response both before and after the fires erupted.

In a video posted on Facebook Thursday, Governor Josh Green said about 45 percent of the area has been searched and 41 cadaver dogs have arrived from the mainland to aid in the search for more victims.

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