Hurricane Maria Killed Thousands More Than Katrina, Study Says

Gerald Herbert  AP

Gerald Herbert AP

The official government death toll for that devastating storm pales in comparison at 64, a figure the researchers called "a substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria".

In all, the researchers estimated during this period there were 4,645 more deaths than in the same period of 2016.

The Harvard study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, surveyed nearly 3,300 randomly selected Puerto Rican households, and found mortality rates leaped 62 percent from September 20th through the end of 2017, compared with the year before.

Hurricane Maria, a high-end category 4 storm, struck the island in September, doing tens of billions of dollars in damage to buildings, roads and power lines. One of the researchers, Rafael Irizarry of Harvard University, told the AP that the estimate is uncertain because of its limited size, but that the study still provides valuable information, including how some people died.

The situation in Puerto Rico is dire, but it is not entirely isolated.

Puerto Rico officials have not shared any new data on hurricane-related deaths since December 2017, when Governer Ricardo Rossello ordered a review of the official toll.

"There was a massive lack of access to care", Fortuna said.

The surveys have been taken from January to February 2018, a time when, researchers famous, "many survey respondents have been nonetheless with out water and electrical energy".

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"Approximately one-third of post-hurricane deaths were reported by household members as being caused by delayed or prevented access to medical care", said the report.

Almost 5,000 people died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, more than 70 times more than the official government death toll, according to a new study from the New England Journal of Medicine. By the end of the day, the official count had more than doubled.

"Ask yourself whether Mr. Trump would have thought - or acted - differently if the American citizens who were affected had lived not in Puerto Rico but in Texas or Tennessee". He says more people likely died from Katrina as well. The director of that study did not return messages for comment. As the world knows, the magnitude of this tragic disaster caused by Hurricane Maria resulted in many fatalities.

In his trip to the island last October, President Trump could hardly contain his indifference to the working class, telling the people of Puerto Rico that the destruction from Hurricane María did not constitute "a real catastrophe like Katrina" because the death count was so low.

The study explained that every disaster-related death in Puerto Rico has to be confirmed by the Institute of Forensic Sciences.

The Harvard researchers said interviews conducted in Puerto Rico suggested a 60 per cent increase in mortality in the three months after the storm.

The tally, reported online on Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is likely to be controversial because it is far higher than previous independent estimates.

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