Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Death Toll Raised to 2,975
Washington: Puerto Rican officials now say 2,975 people died following Hurricane Maria — a devastating storm that struck the US island territory in September 2017. The White House concurred. The revised death toll is nearly 50 times the previous estimate of 64. The latest findings were made in a report by experts from George Washington University, which Governor Ricardo Rossello commissioned. The long-awaited independent investigation findings have been “accepted”, the BBC reported.
In a statement, the White House said the federal government supported the governor’s efforts to “ensure a full accountability and transparency of fatalities” in the 2017 hurricane.
When asked why his government was unable to recognize a higher death toll at the time, Rossello replied: “I am not perfect. I make mistakes. Now, hindsight tends to be 20-20.” He echoed one finding in the report that doctors “lacked awareness” on how to appropriately certify deaths attributed to natural disasters. The government’s initial number was arrived at by counting those crushed by collapsing structures, drowned and hit by flying debris. President Donald Trump was criticised for praising the federal response to the hurricane-ravaged island in the weeks following the storm. Critics accused him of showing more concern for residents in Texas and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes. (IANS)