Thousands more died from Hurricane Maria than official death toll

Thousands more died from Hurricane Maria than official death toll

Most deaths after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico are blamed on interruptions in medical care due to power outages and blocked or washed out roads, said the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"As the world knows, the magnitude of this tragic disaster caused by Hurricane Maria resulted in many fatalities". His family says that's because they couldn't afford to power a breathing machine that helped keep him alive.

Puerto Rico also requires that deaths be confirmed by a medical examiner, a standard that researchers said could contribute to undercounting deaths on an island where no corner was left undamaged.

They randomly sampled 35 households, totaling 9,522 people, in 13 barrios and then compared the number of deaths reported between September 20 and December 31 to the same period a year earlier since the island's death rate has not fluctuated significantly since 2010.

In a statement following the announcement, Carlos Mercader, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, said, "We have always expected the number to be higher than what was previously reported".

Survey-takers used criteria from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if a person's death could be blamed on the hurricane.

Such mortality would far outstrip the 1,833 who died in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, belying President Donald Trump's boasts about the low death toll of the storm that occurred on his watch.

The researchers noted that this number was likely lower than the actual number because of "survivor bias" and gave an adjusted estimate of 5,740 based on the fact that they could not count individuals who lived alone and died in the aftermath of the storm.

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Experts tell CNN it is hard to say with certainty whether a hurricane "caused" certain deaths, especially those that occurred because of the chaotic and unsafe conditions that have lingered for months in Puerto Rico.

For comparison, the death toll from 2005's Hurricane Katrina - the costliest hurricane in U.S. history - was far lower, estimated at 1,833. It said this was because no one could answer the survey questions for those people who had been living on their own and died during the storm.

The overall figure dwarfs the government count of 64 people.

Numerous deaths came after the storm itself as residents struggled without potable water and electricity.

"About 15 percent of the people interviewed", The New York Times writes, "reported that someone in their household was unable to get medicines for at least a day after the storm".

"This is a valid way of looking at it", he said of the research from Harvard.

"Hospitals and doctors struggled to provide care, and many people simply had trouble getting to the doctor or the hospital to seek medical care".

"As the United States prepares for its next hurricane season", the researchers wrote, "it will be critical to review how disaster-related deaths will be counted, in order to mobilize an appropriate response operation and account for the fate of those affected".

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