Puerto Rican Government Admits Hurricane Maria Death Toll Was at Least 1,400

Sean Breslin
Published: August 9, 2018

For the first time since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico nearly 11 months ago, the U.S. territory's government has conceded that the monster storm was responsible for hundreds of deaths on the island.

The government said in a report to Congress this week that Maria killed at least 1,427 people in Puerto Rico. For months, the Puerto Rican government's official death toll stood at 64.

(MORE: A Look Back at Hurricane Maria, a Devastating Storm)

With doubts that the government accurately counted the number of deaths following the storm, experts have done numerous studies to calculate the number of lives that were actually claimed by Maria. Conservative estimates put the death toll at 1,100 or higher, while some studies pegged the number of deaths as high as 4,500.

A New York Times investigation said it was likely at least 1,000 Puerto Ricans were killed by the storm in the U.S. territory.

This new report makes Maria the second-deadliest hurricane to strike Puerto Rico since records began in the mid-19th century, according to data from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division. Only the San Ciriaco hurricane of August 1899 was deadlier, with an official estimate of 3,369 killed.

The report submitted to the U.S. government earlier this week was part of a $139 billion reconstruction plan for Puerto Rico. The government has also commissioned an academic study that's expected to provide more detailed information in the coming weeks, according to the Associated Press.

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