The Puerto Rican government “quietly acknowledged” on Thursday that Hurricane Maria killed 1,427 residents. The government had previously said only 64 people died in the storm’s aftermath.
The announcement came in a report detailing a $139 billion reconstruction plan needed to restore infrastructure across the entire island, which is home to 3.3 million people.
This is still a highly contested figure. A Harvard University study reports that anywhere from 800 to 8,500 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria.
Though some were killed amid the destruction of Hurricane Maria, many were killed in the storm’s aftermath because of nonfunctioning hospitals and a lack of medical care. Resulting power outages also caused an increase in deaths due to diabetes, heart illnesses, and sepsis.
Hurricanes Maria and Irma caused countrywide blackouts that broke records as the largest power outages in American history. Blackouts continue to persist on the island.
President Trump thinks the government has done a “great job” with rescue efforts. They should be “very proud,” he said.
NY Times – Puerto Rican Government Acknowledges Hurricane Death Toll of 1,427
AP News – Puerto Rico: 1,400 died from hurricane but toll still at 64
USA Today – Puerto Rico acknowledges much higher death toll from Hurricane Maria: 1,427 fatalities
Vox – 9 months after Hurricane Maria, thousands of Puerto Ricans still don’t have power
BBC – Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico acknowledges hundreds died