Puerto Rico governor orders review of Hurricane Maria death toll following discrepencies
Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello has ordered an official review of the death toll of Hurricane Maria on the island due to a report cited by the New York Times that sets the deceased at well over 1,000 people.
The official toll from September was set at 64 people, which is an enormous gap. Rossello says: ““Every life is more than a number, and every death must have a name and vital information attached to it, as well as an accurate accounting of the facts related to their passing… We always expected that the number of hurricane-related deaths would increase as we received more factual information — not hearsay — and this review will ensure we are correctly counting everybody.”
One reason for the official death toll being so low is that some deaths were not being connected to the hurricane until some family stories started contradicting the official account. As a result, the Puerto Rican government is looking into reexamining medical records, interviewing family members and calling doctors to see if some of the fatalities which were previously ruled natural deaths need to be reclassified as Hurricane Maria related.
Government officials have noted that some of the documentation has been complicated due to the precarious nature of power on the island. Now three months removed from Hurricane Maria, half of the island is still without power and in some places running water.