| 1 October 2023, Sunday |

Biden tours ‘overwhelming’ Hawaii wildfire damage

President Joe Biden examined wildfire devastation in Hawaii following an investigation of his administration’s response to the state’s greatest natural catastrophe.

On Monday, 13 days after the worst US wildfire in almost a century, he landed in Maui, assuring survivors that the country “grieves with you.”

Mr. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden saw the burned wreckage of Lahaina and spoke with first responders.

At least 114 individuals have killed, and 850 remain missing.

The governor of Hawaii has stated that many of the victims may be youngsters.

“For as long as it takes, we’re going to be with you,” said Mr Biden, who spoke for about 10 minutes amid the rubble. “The whole country will be with you.”

He added: “The country grieves with you, stands with you and will do everything possible to help you recover.”

Mr Biden – who also took an aerial tour – described the wildfire devastation as “overwhelming”.

The president and the federal agencies he oversees have come under fire from Hawaiians who say aid has been inadequate and poorly organized.

Republicans have led criticism of the Democratic president for having been on two holidays since the fire struck on 8 August.

To visit Hawaii, Mr Biden paused his current vacation at Lake Tahoe in Nevada, where he is renting a home belonging to a Democratic donor, according to the White House.

The White House has said Mr Biden delayed his trip to the disaster zone so he wouldn’t distract from recovery operations.