By Omaya Sosa Pascual
7 December 2017

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (Center for Investigative Journalism) – It’s official. In the 40 days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, at least 985 additional people died, when compared to the same period in 2016.

And if the entire months of September and October are included (since Hurricane Irma also passed through the island days before Maria), the figure rises to 1,065 deaths — despite the fact that Puerto Rico lost more than 100,000 inhabitants due to migration this year, according to estimates from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies of The City University of New York.

Since Sept. 20, the day the historic Category 4 storm struck the entire island with 155 mph winds that left Puerto Rico without power, the average daily death rate increased by 43 percent, with peaks of about 80 percent on days like Sept. 21 and 25. In October, deaths increased by 23.3 percent.

The majority of the deaths were men and women over 50 who died in hospitals and nursing homes from conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, kidney disease, hypertension, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. When compared to the same time period from 2016, there was a significant increase in deaths, especially in hospitals and nursing homes.

This information — made public Thursday for the first time by the Center for Investigative Journalism from data provided by the island’s Demographic Registry — presents an official overview of the magnitude and profile of deaths recorded after Hurricane Maria. […]

Aerial of damage in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Photo: Center for Investigative Journalism

This new data confirms the findings of a Sept. 28 CPI story, revealing that at that time there were dozens and possibly hundreds of deaths linked to the hurricane, contrary to the official government death toll, which remained at 16 victims during the first two weeks of the emergency. Today, more than two months after the catastrophe, the official death count stands at 62, due to the poor methodology being used to analyze and account for cases, according to reporting by the CPI.

The revelation of the new data also coincides with accounts from relatives’ reports of victims that point to problems with essential health services such as dialysis, ventilators, oxygen, and other critical circumstances caused by the lack of electricity in homes and hospitals throughout Puerto Rico. [more]

Nearly 1,000 more people died in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria



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