Report: Hurricane Maria Death Toll Rises To Nearly 3,000

UTUADO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 19: Mourners carry the casket of Wilfredo Torres Rivera, 58, who died October 13 after jumping off a bridge into a lake, three weeks after Hurricane Maria, on October 19, 2017 in Utuado... UTUADO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 19: Mourners carry the casket of Wilfredo Torres Rivera, 58, who died October 13 after jumping off a bridge into a lake, three weeks after Hurricane Maria, on October 19, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Utuado was one of the hardest hit areas on the island and remains largely without grid electricity or running water. Wilfredo's family said he suffered from depression and schizophrenia and was caring for his 92-year-old mother in a home without electricity or water in the aftermath of Maria. They believe he did not have the mental tools to manage the challenges of the storm's aftermath. The family was concerned and brought Wilfredo to a doctor shortly before his death but they say he was not provided with adequate care or counseling. While the government has ruled his death a suicide, the family believes his death should be classified as a death caused by Hurricane Maria. The official death toll of Hurricane Maria is 48 yet critics believe the actual death toll may be far higher. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — An estimated 2,975 people died in the six months after Hurricane Maria as a result of the storm, with the elderly and impoverished most affected, according to a long-awaited independent study ordered by the U.S. territory’s government that was released Tuesday.

The findings contrast sharply with the official death toll of 64, and are about double the government’s previous interim estimate of 1,400 deaths.

Researchers with The Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University said the official death count from the Category 4 storm that hit on Sept. 20 was low in part because physicians were not trained on how to certify deaths after a disaster.

There was a 22 percent overall increase in the number of deaths from September 2017 to February 2018 compared to previous years in the same time period, Lynn Goldman, dean of the institute, told reporters.

“We are hopeful that the government will accept this as an official death toll,” she said.

The office of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello did not immediately return a message for comment.

The study noted that mortality in Puerto Rico had been slowly decreasing since 2010, but spiked after the hurricane. About 40 percent of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities saw a significantly higher number of deaths in the six months after the storm compared with the previous two years, researchers said. These municipalities were located mostly in the island’s northeast and southwest regions.

Researchers found that the risk of death was 45 percent higher for those living in impoverished communities, and that men older than 65 saw a continuous elevated risk of death.

They also stated that physicians and others told them that Puerto Rico’s government did not notify them about federal guidelines on how to document deaths related to a major disaster.

“Others expressed reluctance to relate deaths to hurricanes due to concern about the subjectivity of this determination and about liability,” the report stated.

Researchers said they took into account an 8 percent drop in Puerto Rico’s population that occurred from September 2017 to mid-February 2018, when tens of thousands fled the damage left by the storm.

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  1. Avatar for ajrp ajrp says:

    The comparison between this number and the 9/11 death toll and the contrast in the federal government’s response will not be lost on many…

  2. Avatar for grack grack says:

    This outstrips Hurricane Katrina by a lot. It’s sickening that we are so far down the rabbit hole with this president that it will barely register with the voting public.

  3. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

    Sorry my fellow Americans who live in Puerto Rico. You just didn’t look like the guy who lives in the White House.

    Maybe next time . . .


  4. Avatar for j.dave j.dave says:

    Terrible timing.

    The Scoop Nazi has already declared victory and moved on, and besides, he’s out of paper towels.

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