Puerto Rico released partial records of the death toll following Hurricane Maria late Tuesday after the government held off from publicizing them.
The records show there were 1,427 more deaths in the last four months of 2017 than there were in the average death toll over the previous four years. The official death toll from Hurricane Maria is 64, but Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello admitted this number is inaccurate.
Rossello said he will not release the full death toll until George Washington University completes a survey of the data from the hurricane’s devastation.
The Puerto Rican government complied with a court order after CNN and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism filed a lawsuit over the documents. Rossello’s administration refused to release the documents in February.
There are still 307 unidentified bodies kept in refrigerated containers, supporting the claim that the death toll may be higher than initially reported. Due to a lack of funds for the Puerto Rico morgue where the bodies are kept, there is a shortage of staffers to manage and identify the bodies.
Rossello’s government requested a delay after the court originally set June 11 as the date for the government to release the data. (RELATED: Puerto Rico Seeks To Delay Release Of Death Records Related To Hurricane Maria)
A highly publicized study by Harvard University said that there were more than 4,500 deaths due to Hurricane Maria. The data was not based on official records but rather a survey of 3,000 homes in the area affected by the hurricane.
The government is slowly releasing the data, saying it will take time to produce the records, and the exact documentation the Puerto Rican government will release is still not specified.
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