The death toll from last month's Maui wildfires has been revised to 97, down from 115, authorities said Friday.
The number of those who remain unaccounted for in the weeks since the disaster is also now 31, down from 66, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said during a press briefing Friday.
Both numbers could still increase amid the ongoing investigation, though they represent the most accurate figures at the moment, according to Dr. John Byrd, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory director.
"I think for the first time, we now have a clearer picture of what exactly this is," Chief Pelletier said. "We have an obligation to our community to make sure we do this right by them."
So far 74 individuals who died in the fires have been positively identified, the police chief said.
Dr. Jeremy Stuelpnagel, the medical examiner hired by the Maui Police Department, said the discrepancy in the death toll is due to the consolidation of remains as they match DNA profiles from the fragments.
Stuelpnagel said teams have been using DNA, dental comparisons and surgical hardware such as pacemakers to help identify the victims.
"We're trying every single modality we have to make sure we identity these people," Stuelpnagel said. "It does take a lot of time, this is a mass disaster."
He said the process has been challenged by victims found in homes they did not live in or cars they did not own while attempting to seek shelter as wildfires swept through Lahaina.
Even with the revised death toll, the Maui wildfire still ranks as the fifth-deadliest in U.S. history, and the deadliest in over a century.
This week, officials confirmed the death of 14-year-old Keyiro Fuentes, one of the youngest known victims to date.
Maui wildfire death toll drops to 97 from 115, authorities say originally appeared on abcnews.go.com