Biden visits Hawaii to view fire damage, meet survivors



U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Hawaii on Monday to view the widespread damage from the recent Maui wildfires, meet with survivors and fend off criticism that his government was too slow to respond to the disaster.

Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were greeted in Maui by Hawaii's governor, Josh Green, nearly two weeks after ferocious, wind-whipped blazes ripped through the historic town of Lahaina, claiming at least 114 lives.

The flames moved so quickly that residents and visitors were caught off guard, trapped in the streets or jumping into the ocean to escape the worst wildfire disaster in the United States in over a century.

After a helicopter tour of the damage, Biden is due to announce further relief funding and the appointment of a federal response coordinator.

Critics, including disgruntled survivors in Hawaii and some Republicans hoping to face Biden in next year's presidential election, say aid has been inadequate and poorly organized.

Former President Donald Trump said it was "disgraceful" that his successor had not responded more quickly, though the White House has said Biden delayed his trip so as not to distract officials and rescuers working on the ground.

Biden, who took off from Nevada where he was vacationing, said in a statement: "I know nothing can replace the loss of life. I will do everything in my power to help Maui recover and rebuild from this tragedy."