By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – Puerto Rico has admitted Hurricane Maria killed more than 1,400 people last year, annulling the previous tally of 64, the island said Thursday.
In a report drafted and quietly sent to U.S. Congress on Thursday, the commonwealth government said there were 1,427 more deaths than normal during the four-month period from September to December 2017, compared to the past four years. The report also detailed a $139 billion plan for the reconstruction of the island.
The Puerto Rican government initially said the number of deaths was 64 last year, however, it later said there were many more in the aftermath of the storm. It’s initial number was heavily scrutinized by media outlets and humanitarian organizations.
This number has not been made official, as the government hired George Washington University to review the data, after the death toll in the report had raised questions among media outlets. The findings are to be announced later this summer.
The higher death toll was first reported Thursday by the New York Times.