At least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year. This number is drastically different than the death toll that the official government released, which states that only 64 people lost their lives as a result of the devastation across the island.

The research comes from a new Harvard study. “Our results indicate that the official death count of 64 is a substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria,” the researchers wrote.


The scientists found that the loss of electricity and crumbling infrastructure caused road closures and communications failures, and as a result that caused “health-care disruption for the elderly” and the loss of “basic utility services for the chronically ill.”

According to the Washington Post, “Researchers in the United States and Puerto Rico, led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, calculated the number of deaths by surveying nearly 3,300 randomly chosen households across the island and comparing the estimated post-hurricane death rate to the mortality rate for the year before. Their surveys indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared to 2016, or 4,645 ‘excess deaths.’”

Hurricane Maria caused Puerto Rico more than $90 billion in damage.

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