Puerto Rico 2017 hurricane death toll raised to almost 3,000 from 64

Puerto Rico 2017 hurricane death toll raised to almost 3,000 from 64

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, slammed President Donald Trump on Wednesday after he said his administration did a "fantastic job" in helping the US territory Rico recover from last year's devastating Hurricane Maria.

The report found that an estimated 2,975 deaths could be attributed directly or indirectly to Maria from the time it struck in September 2017 to mid-February of this year.

Governor Ricardo Rossello "accepted" the findings in a long-awaited independent investigation.

But the higher figure, based on the findings of researchers from George Washington University in a study commissioned by the United States commonwealth's government, is only an approximation, not a concrete list of names, according to Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

Trump has come under stiff criticism for his handling of the disaster, principally from Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital city San Juan.

Santos-Burgoa said the high death toll, ranking Maria among the worst natural disasters in USA history, was evidence that "we lack a culture of preparedness".

The George Washington researchers said the official count from the September 20 hurricane was low in part because doctors were not trained in how to classify deaths after a disaster. "And have the firm commitment to identify those mistakes and make sure that moving forward toward the future, those mistakes aren't committed".

"I only hope they don't get hit again because they were hit by two in a row", Trump said.

Until now, the official figure was 64 - even though the island had previously acknowledged the death toll was probably much higher. Deaths from diabetes went from 3,151 to 3,250, and deaths from heart illnesses increased from 5,417 to 5,586.

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The government of Puerto Rico stopped publicly sharing its data on hurricane deaths in December 2017.

On Tuesday, the official toll went up from just 64 people killed to almost 3,000 in the six months after the storm slammed into Puerto Rico.

Trump also mentioned that aid to Puerto Rico was made more hard due to it being an island and praised the work of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"While this is the result that I am compelled to find, it is not necessarily the right result", Hillman said.

Researchers estimated the excess deaths with the help of mathematical modeling that compared post-hurricane deaths to the expected number based on historical patterns, and adjusted for age, sex and migration from the island.

The study also found that government emergency plans in place when Maria hit were not designed for hurricanes greater than a Category 1.

"This was not a good news story from the beginning", she said.

For comparison, the death toll from 2005's Hurricane Katrina - the costliest hurricane in USA history - was far lower, and estimated at 1,833.

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