Hurricane death toll estimate in Puerto Rico soars to nearly 3000

Hurricane death toll estimate in Puerto Rico soars to nearly 3000

Hurricane death toll estimate in Puerto Rico soars to nearly 3000

Almost 3,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria previous year, a number that dwarfs the government's initial tally of 64, according to a report commissioned by Puerto Rican officials and released Tuesday.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello upgraded that count to nearly 3,000 on based on a report commissioned by island officials and conducted by George Washington University's Milken Institute of Public Health. That's nearly twice the government's previous estimate.

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.

He said the data sources used by George Washington also are better, "but its accuracy is not as great as they advertise".

A federal judge from MA denied a motion Thursday to extend government housing assistance for hundreds of Hurricane María evacuees from Puerto Rico, ending a program meant to put families who lost homes in the storm back on their feet.

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told the BBC that there had been "neglect" by the Trump administration and some local officials hadn't wanted to confront the president about the need for more aid.

After Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico past year, operators say a family of cats began calling the observatory their home. In May a Harvard University-led research team estimated that 4,645 lives were lost from Maria on Puerto Rico. Until the recent update, Puerto Rico's government had said only 64 people died as a result of the storm.

Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority is more than $9 billion in debt, but was operating.

"I would say this is a study that can provide everybody a sense of security that, yes, this is a number that you can use as a reference for the future", said Carlos Santos-Burgoa, principal investigator and professor of global health at GW's school of public health.

"I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we have done", said Trump.

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During a visit in October, Mr Trump had suggested officials should be "proud" the death toll - at the time only 16 - was not as high as "a real catastrophe" like Katrina.

"We never anticipated a scenario of zero communication, zero energy, zero highway access", Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosselló, told reporters.

Researchers say many physicians here didn't know how to properly report hurricane-related deaths after the storm, which is why the initial death toll was so low.

News organizations and some members of Congress have raised questions about the official death toll in Puerto Rico, which had remained at 64 for months.

A year after the hurricane, residents are still struggling and many have fled the island for the mainland.

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