Puerto Rico has officially raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria last year from 64 to nearly 3,000 following the release of a study ordered by the governor of the island. This officially makes Maria one of the deadliest storms in U.S. history. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló acknowledged the higher death count on Tuesday.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló: “I am announcing, as well, that we are—even though it is an estimate, we are officially changing the—or we are actually putting an official number to the death toll. We will make the 2,975 number as the official estimate for the excess deaths as a product of Maria.”
President Trump has so far not responded to the new official death toll, which is 46 times higher than the initial count. But in October, during a visit to Puerto Rico, Trump boasted about the low official death count.
President Donald Trump: “If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering—nobody’s ever seen anything like this—and what is your—what is your death count as of this moment? Seventeen?”
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló: “Sixteen certified.”
President Donald Trump: “Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people, working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”
While Puerto Rico is now putting the death toll at 2,975, other studies show the actual death toll from Hurricane Maria may be considerably higher. In May, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found the death toll to be at least 4,645—and perhaps as high as 5,740.