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Puerto Rico Releases Records Suggesting a Higher Death Count After Hurricane Maria

The government of Puerto Rico has released records suggesting 1,427 more people died on the island in the months following Hurricane Maria than would be expected in a normal year, NPR reports.

Experts have struggled to count how many people have died in the wake of the storm, which hit in September of 2017. The official number is 64, but researchers and journalists have estimated that the true toll is much higher. Most recently, a team of researchers who randomly surveyed households in Puerto Rico estimated that 4,600 people may have died, directly and indirectly, because of Hurricane Maria. The Conversation gathered estimates from several teams, made over the past few months; all are lower than 4,600, but still far higher than the official count:

Bar chart showing various estimates of Hurricane Maria's death toll.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló initially faced criticism for keeping media outlets and researchers from looking at records that would help them make independent estimates of Hurricane Maria's death toll. CNN and the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism sued to have the data released. The records were finally made available today.