Oprah Winfrey and her camera crew were turned away from a shelter for survivors of the Hawaii wildfires – as officials confirmed at least 96 people are now dead.
The TV personality, who has spent recent days helping with aid efforts during a visit to the state, was accompanied by a CBS News crew when she was denied entry to the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku.
Officials said that while they appreciated Oprah’s work, “out of respect for those who have come to seek safety and shelter at emergency shelters, our policy remains that no media are given access”.
The County of Maui later clarified that Oprah was welcomed into the facility after she instructed the camera crew to remain outside.
“We welcome Oprah to continue to uplift our community’s spirit and give her aloha to victims of the tragic disaster,” a Facebook post said. “Her visit inside of the shelter today was truly heartwarming.”
She has been pictured this week on social media visiting at least one shelter, helping to hand out supplies and giving comfort to victims.
This is the deadliest wildfire that the US has seen in the past century – surpassing the 85 who died in California’s Camp Fire in 2018.
Hawaii Governor Josh Green says it is the largest natural disaster the US state had ever faced.
Workers are using axes and dogs to search through charred remains of properties on Lahaina on the island of Maui.