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

The researchers also identified gaps in the death certification and public communication processes and went on to make recommendations that will help prepare Puerto Rico for future hurricanes and other natural disasters.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that victims of last year's hurricane, which was estimated this week to have killed almost 3,000 people on the USA territory, "deserve no less" than the government's full support. A spokesman for Gov. Rossello said the governor would speak at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Just weeks after officials in Puerto Rico conceded that Hurricane Maria killed more than 1,400 people on the island previous year ― over 20 times the official death toll ― a new analysis suggests the number of casualties was even greater.

The disconnect between the administration's initial sanguine assessment of the situation and the enormity of the disaster was evident 12 days into the crisis when Elaine Duke, then acting United States homeland security secretary, characterized the federal response as "a really good news story" and spoke of a "limited number of deaths".

Aurea Cruz, 66 sits on her bed inside her house damaged by Hurricane Maria in Viegues, Puerto Rico. That does not include indirect deaths of the sort the George Washington researchers counted in Puerto Rico.

On Tuesday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló officially raised the hurricane's death toll to match the report's findings, making Maria the deadliest US hurricane since a 1900 storm that hit Texas.

But US Representative Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, said the study was "only the latest to underscore that the federal response to the hurricanes was disastrously inadequate, and as a result, thousands of our fellow American citizens lost their lives".

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This is the first official change to the death toll following efforts by journalists, activists and academics to get the government to officially acknowledge the scale of devastation. People from all social and economic backgrounds perished in the storm, though the death count was proportionately higher for Puerto Ricans in poorer communities and elderly men, according to the report.

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

The previous findings by Harvard University blamed most deaths after Hurricane Maria on interruptions in medical care due to power outages and blocked or washed out roads.

Dr Goldman added: "That caused a number of issues".

"Acrow has many years' experience in creating and restoring transportation lifelines under extreme circumstances, but we have never worked under conditions as challenging and severe as those left by Maria".

That figure was always risible - particularly when you consider that the 150 miles per hour (241 kmh) winds caused around $90bn worth of damage and left households for, on average, 84 days without electricity; 64 days without water and 41 days without cellular telephone coverage.

In 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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