Energy

Puerto Rico Governor Says ‘There Will Be Hell To Pay’ If Officials Fudged Death Toll Numbers

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló issued a dire warning Thursday night to territory officials who some activists believe withheld key statistics about the death toll from Hurricane Maria.

Rosselló’s comments during a CNN interview came shortly after a Harvard University study published Wednesday pegged the death toll from the hurricane at 4,645, which is far higher than the official count of 64. There will be “hell to pay” if officials covered up the numbers, he said in a CNN interview.

“If it’s true, Anderson, there will be hell to pay, because I really want this to be very transparent,” Rosselló told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I want the truth to come out. That’s the bottom line. And I want us to learn from this tragedy.”(RELATED: The Death Toll On Puerto Rico From Hurricane Maria Is 73 Times Higher Than Officially Reported, Harvard Study Says)

Harvard researchers surveyed thousands of households across the island to determine the death toll from the September 2017 hurricane. They then took that data and compared it to the official mortality rates for the same time period the previous year. (RELATED: Puerto Rico Utility Signs $900 Million Deal It Can’t Afford)

“Public health surveillance is extremely challenging when infrastructure and health systems are severely damaged,” the Harvard study noted, suggesting collection of data was severely hampered after Maria bulldozed through Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

The Puerto Rican government also hired George Washington University to conduct an assessment of the death toll from Maria. The results of that study were due out in the spring, but have since been delayed. “The best data was not available” to researchers, Rosselló acknowledged in the interview and said the lack of data is making George Washington University’s job more difficult.

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