WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Thursday declared the Hawaii wildfires a "major disaster," unblocking federal funds for the hard-hit island of Maui after the flames claimed at least 36 lives and razed a historic town.

"Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires," a White House statement said.

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