Puerto Rico Orders Recount of Hurricane Maria Death Toll After Investigation Suggests Over 1,000 Died

In the face of mounting evidence of a vast undercount by the government, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló has called for a recount of the death toll from Hurricane Maria. The government’s official death toll stands at 64. But several investigations have revealed that nearly 1,000 more people died. The Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico examined the 40-day period after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico compared to that same time period last year and found at least 985 additional people died. This week, The New York Times and other outlets published statistics from the Puerto Rican government that show the death toll may be more than 1,000. We speak with Omaya Sosa, the co-founder of Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, who has led coverage of the deaths after the storm.

TRANSCRIPT

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show in Puerto Rico, where the island’s governor said Monday he is launching an official recount and review of the death count from Hurricane Maria. The storm devastated the island on September 20th. And since then, the government has listed the official death toll at 64.

But several investigations have calculated that perhaps nearly a thousand more people died. The Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico examined the 40-day period after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and compared it to that same time period last year, finding at least 985 additional people died. A CNN survey of funeral home directors in Puerto Rico found that they had tracked at least 499 additional deaths in the first month after the storm that were attributable to Hurricane Maria. This week, The New York Times and other outlets published statistics from the Puerto Rican government that show the death toll may be more than a thousand.

In a statement released Monday, the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, referred to the reports, saying the media, quote, “used the data provided by the Puerto Rico Demographic Registry, but the Government needs to…

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