By Newser Editors, Newser Staff
(NEWSER) – Puerto Rico’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria has long stood at 64, despite independent assessments that the figure is much too low. The government now agrees, in a big way. In a report to be made public Thursday, Puerto Rico raises the total by a factor of more than 20 to 1,427, reports the New York Times. The higher figure comes in a report the territory commissioned from George Washington University, notes the AP. It will be presented to Congress as part of Puerto Rico’s request for $139 billion in recovery funds.
“The hurricanes’ devastating effects on people’s health and safety cannot be overstated,” the government says in the report. The death toll includes not just those directly killed by the storm, but those affected by the catastrophic damage to infrastructure in the hurricane’s aftermath. Many people died, for example, because they couldn’t get to a hospital or because no electricity was available to run medical equipment.