Puerto Rico Concedes Hurricane Maria Deaths More Than 1,400

Mother Isamar holds her baby Saniel 9 months at their makeshift home under reconstruction after being mostly destroyed by Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria cut through the island on September 20, knocking out power and initially killing about a dozen people.

In December 2017, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló ordered a recount of the official Maria death toll in light of mounting evidence that the low figure was a "gross misrepresentation", Vox reported.

Almost a year after Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island, Puerto Rico finally acknowledged that more than 1,400 people were killed in the storm - not the 64 it had included in the official death toll.

"According to initial reports, 64 lives were lost", the report, titled "Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation", stated.

In a draft report to Congress posted online, the government said the revised number of deaths should be 1,427, based on public health records.

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"Every death is a horror - but 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 has ever seen anything like this", Trump said then. Many people died from lack of access to hospitals, or because there was no power to run the machines they used to breathe. The report is expected to be released this month.

The figure was included in a draft report to Congress that outlined the government's reconstruction plan for the USA territory. He declared himself "very proud" of federal officials work to beat back last year's devastating hurricane season and said "our entire government leapt into action to coordinate the response along with state and local leaders". The official number will come, and it could be close. "We always anticipated that this number would increase as more official studies were conducted", Pesquera said.

The territory's government said that the additional deaths resulted from the effects of a storm that led to a "cascading failures" in infrastructure across the island of 3.3 million people. "The estimate provided was done using data from the Demographic Registry which was made available to the members of the media".

But a more exact number has been a matter of debate that the government has sought to end by commissioning an academic study due out in coming weeks.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Thursday the Trump administration is continuing to aid Puerto Rico.

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