Hurricane Maria Death Toll Drastically Increases, Trump Defends US Response

Puerto Rico hurricane evacuees living in hotels across the USA can be evicted in two weeks, a MA judge ruled Thursday, saying he didn't believe it was the right thing to do but that his hands were tied by the law.

"When I saw people dying I opted to shout it". A Pennsylvania State University study put the number at 1,085.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello upgraded that count to nearly 3,000 on based on a report commissioned by island officials and conducted by George Washington University's Milken Institute of Public Health. "I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we've done".

The poor and elderly were also disproportionately hard hit in terms of risk of fatalities.

Trump has trumpeted his handling of the storm's aftermath, including saying in the days afterward the storm had resulted in a relatively small number of deaths compared to a "real catastrophe like Katrina".

The current official death toll exceeds Hurricane Katrina's carnage of 1,833 in 2005, but is still short of the deadliest hurricane in recorded US history.

"It is indisputable that thousands of people died because of the disastrously inadequate response", Velazquez told CNN.

Researchers with George Washington said they counted deaths over the span of six months - a much longer period than usual - because so many people were without power during that time.

All jurisdictions, not only Puerto Rico and other parts of the US but also globally, should develop methods to rapidly assess total excess mortality after natural disasters and to provide that information to the public.

Carmen Yulín Cruz, who garnered global media attention a year ago in scolding the federal government's response to the massive storm, said the administration "killed the Puerto Ricans with neglect".

The count in Puerto Rico could change as the government continues to investigate deaths from the storm, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Roselló said. He added that he could only apply the law and not require FEMA "to do that which in a humanitarian and caring world should be done". In the second phase, the researchers plan to focus on the causes of death.

"Especially between November and December, we were very concerned".

"Others expressed reluctance to relate deaths to hurricanes due to concern about the subjectivity of this determination and about liability", the report said. They also said the public health system needs to be strengthened, though Goldman said they don't know yet whether those weaknesses contributed to storm-related deaths. "If enacted, the recommendations of this report could help save lives in Puerto Rico and beyond".

  • Joey Payne