Puerto Rico concedes Hurricane Maria deaths more than 1,400

Puerto Rico concedes Hurricane Maria deaths more than 1,400

During a visit to Puerto Rico in the wake of the devastation, President Donald Trump also controversially downplayed the death toll and was criticised after saying Puerto Rico's devastation had "thrown our budget a little out of whack".

Hurricane Maria cut through the island on September 20, knocking out power and initially killing about a dozen people. This year, Puerto Ricans laid thousands of pairs of shoes outside the island's Capitol building to represent the uncounted dead.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Puerto Rico is estimating in a report to Congress that Hurricane Maria killed more than 1,400 people, though an island official said Thursday that the confirmed toll remains frozen at 64 pending a scientific review due out soon. At first the government said only 12 people died, then later revised it to 64.

In a draft report detailing a $US139 billion reconstruction plan, the territory's government said that the additional deaths resulted from the effects of a storm that led to a "cascading failures" in infrastructure across the island of 3.3 million people.

The New York Times first reported on the Puerto Rican government's report to Congress. Many people died from lack of healthcare or because there was no power to run medical equipment like dialysis and breathing machines.

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The figure was included in a draft report to Congress that outlined the government's reconstruction plan for the U.S. territory.

Whether the death toll continues to rise or not, this officially one of the deadliest tragedies to strike America in the 21st century. The official number will come, and it could be close.

"We always anticipated that this number would increase as more official studies were conducted", Mr Pesquera said.
"The estimate provided was done using data from the Demographic Registry which was made available to the members of the media".

According to Associate Press, the government has commissioned an academic study that's expected to pinpoint a new, more exact body count. A much-publicized study from Harvard University showed the deaths could have ranged from 800 to 8,500.

In addition to that new figure, the government of Puerto Rico is requesting $139 billion in additional aid. The government has asked for $6 billion for fix and replacement of public buildings and $3.9 billion for environmental use, according to an announcement from the governor's office.

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