Puerto Rico's death toll from Hurricane Maria raised to almost 3,000

Puerto Rico's death toll from Hurricane Maria raised to almost 3,000

Puerto Rico's death toll from Hurricane Maria raised to almost 3,000

The report, produced by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health at the request of the government of Puerto Rico, estimated that there were 2,975 additional deaths in the six months following the category-five storm that barreled into the island last September.

The study tracked excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria from September 2017 to February 2018, and found the toll was "22 percent higher than the number of deaths that would have been expected during that period in a year without the storm".

The storm's death toll has remained controversial as unofficial inquiries and independent research suggested the loss of life was far higher than 64 people formally counted as having perished.

Parsippany-based Acrow Bridge, an global bridge engineering and supply company, announced it is finishing up the last two of 14 bridges ordered to aid in the reconstruction of Puerto Rico's transportation infrastructure.

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The George Washington researchers said the official count from the September 20 hurricane was low in part because doctors were not trained in how to classify deaths after a disaster.

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Puerto Rico's official death toll from Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean island in almost a century, was raised on Tuesday from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to nearly 3,000, based on a study ordered by the governor of the United States territory. The study found that poor residents had a 60 percent higher chance of death, and that older males had a 35 percent higher risk than they would have in previous years. Researchers said the next stage of assessing the death toll includes examining death certificates and interviewing family and friends of the deceased to determine if those deaths should be attributed to the storm. That does not include indirect deaths of the sort the George Washington researchers counted in Puerto Rico.

The report was conducted in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Public Health and commissioned by Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello.

Acrow supplied 12 bridges to PRHTA and two bridges to contractors working for Eastern Federal Lands, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, it said.

The team also found that poor communication about deaths after the disaster, and especially the distinction between deaths directly related to the storm and those indirectly tied to it, contributed to confusion and consternation among members of the public.

The report goes on to say that "physician unawareness of appropriate death certification practices after a natural disaster and the Government of Puerto Rico's lack of communication about death certificate reporting prior to the 2017 hurricane season substantially limited the count of deaths related to Maria".

"Others expressed reluctance to relate deaths to hurricanes due to concern about the subjectivity of this determination and about liability", the report said. They also took into account an 8 per cent drop in Puerto Rico's population in the six months after the storm, when tens of thousands fled because of the damage.

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