Almost 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico linked to Hurricane Maria

Almost 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico linked to Hurricane Maria

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

Puerto Rico's government officially updated the death toll on the island from just 64 in an initial estimate to 2,975, with Rosselló telling reporters that he personally "made mistakes" in the weeks following the storm's landfall.

The study tracked excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria from September 2017 to February 2018, and found the toll was 22 percent higher than the number of deaths that would have been expected during that period in an average year, without such a deadly a hurricane.

In the second phase, researchers plan to interview families of victims who died during Maria's aftermath to identify how numerous 2,975 deaths could be attributed to the hurricane.

It is topped by the great hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas in 1900, killing at least 8,000 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The new report, though, takes into account an 8 percent drop in the US territory's population after the storm as thousands of survivors left quickly for the mainland.

The study also said that those from poorer backgrounds in Puerto Rico were 45% more likely to have been killed in the aftermath of the hurricane.

The devastating storm barreled into the Caribbean island last September.

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"Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds of people that died and what happened here with a storm that was just totally overbearing, no one has ever seen anything like that", Trump said during a visit to the USA territory in October 2017.

The new report says the lower figure only took into account direct causes of death like flying debris and drownings and not a broader increase in mortality rates resulting from the catastrophe.

Aurea Cruz, 66 sits on her bed inside her house damaged by Hurricane Maria in Viegues, Puerto Rico. "Certain groups - those in lower income areas and the elderly - faced the highest risk", said Carlos Santos-Burgoa, MD, MPH, PhD, the principal investigator of the project and a professor of global health at GW Milken Institute SPH.

"The results of our epidemiological study suggest that, tragically, Hurricane Maria led to a large number of excess deaths throughout the island".

"These deaths due partly to negligence".

The government has not commented on findings of Tuesday's report, which is based on an analysis of death certificates and other mortality data for six months from September 2017 through February 2018.

A woman seeking shelter prays using rosary beads at the Juan Ponce de Leon Elementary School in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Sept. 19, 2017, before the arrival of the hurricane. "We used very rigorous methodology". Men 65 and older were also found to be at heightened risk. The island is trying to restructure a portion of its more than $70 billion public debt amid a 12-year recession.

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