Study puts Puerto Rico’s death toll from Hurricane Maria above 4,500 | Science News

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Hurricane Maria killed at least 4,645 people in Puerto Rico, a study estimates

The new number is based on household surveys and surpasses the official count of 64

By
5:04pm, May 29, 2018
Puerto Rico funeral

STORM SURGE  Police in Puerto Rico raise the coffin of a fellow officer who died while crossing a river in his car during Hurricane Maria. A new estimate drastically increases the storm’s death toll on the island.

Hurricane Maria and its chaotic aftermath in Puerto Rico led to at least 4,645 deaths, according to a new estimate based on household surveys. That’s thousands more than the 64 official storm-related deaths counted from death certificates.

The Category 5 storm hit the U.S. Caribbean territory on September 20, 2017, bringing down trees, houses and the electricity system. From then until December 31, the death rate rose 62 percent compared with the same time period in 2016, researchers report online May 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A third of those deaths resulted from delayed or interrupted medical care, the researchers found. Residents most commonly reported that they weren’t able to get medications. Damaged roads and closed medical facilities also disrupted health care, as did the loss of power, which shut down respiratory equipment and dialysis machines.

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