After Hurricane Maria, up to 1,000 more people may have died in Puerto Rico


A review by The New York Times of the daily mortality data of the vital statistics office of Puerto Rico indicates a significantly higher death toll after Hurricane Maria than the government has acknowledged.

Hurricane Maria

makes landfall.

By Trump's visit, 556

more people died

than in previous years.

Additional deaths in 2017 compared to previous years

Cumulative in Puerto Rico, since the storm made landfall.

Hurricane Maria

touches land.

At Trump's visit, 556

more people died

than in previous years.

Additional deaths in 2017 compared to previous years

Cumulative in Puerto Rico, as the storm made landfall.



making landfall.

For Trump's visit, 556

more people died

than in previous years.

Additional deaths in 2017 compared to previous years

Cumulati In Puerto Rico, since the storm made landfall.

Note: The graph shows the cumulative number of deaths in 2017 compared to the average number of deaths in 2015 and 2016. There is a decrease in deaths on some dates because the number in 2017 was less than in previous years .
The New York Times | Source: Demographic record of Puerto Rico (deaths in September and October until December 5)

The death toll continued to rise for weeks after the storm hit as the recovery dragged on. Hospitals struggled to keep the clinics open. And officials have not yet reestablished power on the island in more than two months after Maria made landfall.

The Times badysis found that in the 42 days since Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20 as a Category 4 storm, 1,052 more people than usual died across the island. The badysis compared the number of deaths per day in 2017 with the average number of deaths for the same days in 2015 and 2016.

Officially, only 62 people died as a result of the storm that devastated the island with almost winds of 150 miles per hour, cutting power to 3.4 million Puerto Ricans. The last four deaths were added to the death toll on December 2.

"Before the hurricane, I had an average of 82 deaths per day, which changes from September 20 to September 30. Now I have an average of 118 deaths per day," Wanda Llovet, director of the Demographic Registry, said in an interview in mid-November. In Puerto Rico. Since then, he said on Thursday, both figures increased by one.

October data is not yet complete, and the number of deaths recorded in that month is expected to increase. Record keeping has been delayed because Puerto Rico's power grid is operating at less than 70 percent of its capacity and the fringes of the island still do not have electricity.

Average daily deaths in September and October

Hurricane Maria

touches land.

Hurricane Maria

touches land.


Maria makes

touch down.

Note: The graph shows a five-day moving average.
The New York Times | Source: Demographic Record of Puerto Rico (deaths in September and October until December 5)

The deadliest day was September 25, the day that the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo A. Rosselló, warned that a imminent humanitarian crisis could cause a mbadive exodus from the island.

President Trump responded that night by taking Twitter to say that the island had to deal with its mbadive debt: "Food, water and medicine are the top priorities, and doing well. FEMA. "

It was over 90 degrees, and electricity was off in most of the island, even in most hospitals. People bedridden had problems receiving medical treatment, and dialysis clinics were operating generators and limiting treatment hours. People with respirators lacked electricity to power the machines.


After Hurricane Maria destroyed the bridge of the city in San Lorenzo, Morovis, PR, her family tried to get Rosa María Torres, 95, from the city "If they do not get her out of here , will die, "said Carmen Santos, granddaughter of Mrs. Torres.
Alvin Baez / Reuters

That day, 135 people died in Puerto Rico. comparison, 75 people died that day in 2016 and 60 died in 2015.

A local mayor went that day to the command of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and shouted for help. Statistics show that his city, Manati, had one of the highest mortality rates in September.

Places where there were more deaths in September of 2017 than in September of 2015 [19659050] 1 death by

10,000 people

1 death by

10,000 people

1 death by

10,000 people

1 death for

10,000 people

1 death for 10,000 people

The New York Times | Source: Demographic Registry of Puerto Rico, US Census UU (Deaths by municipality until November 9)

With island-wide communications and bodies accumulated in the morgues of the hospital, the government still clung to its estimated count of early deaths of 16.

On September 29, Hector M. Pesquera, Puerto Rico's public security secretary, said in an interview that the death count would not increase too much.

"Will it go up? I'm pretty sure it will go up," he said. "It will not double or triple." It's not like an earthquake where you have a building and you do not know if there were 20 in the building or 300 in the building until you remove all the debris. "

The day he said that, 127 people died, 57 more than the year

On October 3, almost two weeks after the storm, Mr. Trump visited the island and praised the low number of official victims, referring to the 1,833 deaths in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina as a "catastrophe" real ".


President Trump visited Puerto Rico approximately two weeks after Hurricane Maria and congratulated the island's residents for having a low death toll.
Doug Mills / The New York Times

"Sixteen people certified," said Trump. "Sixteen people compared to thousands. He can be very proud of all his people and all our people working together. "

For that visit, another 556 people had died in Puerto Rico compared to the same period in the previous two years.

The Times estimates that in the three weeks after the storm, the death toll was 739. If all those additional deaths to count as related to the hurricane, it would be Mary the sixth deadlie st hurricane since 1851.

The method used to count the Official deaths from storms vary by state and locality In some parts of the United States, forensic doctors only include direct deaths, such as those caused by drowning in flood waters, but in Puerto Rico, however, Mr. Pesquera, the forensic doctor includes deaths caused indirectly by storms, such as suicides, which is why the gap between the official death toll and the hundreds of additional deaths It's so amazing.

One study, which has not been reviewed by a professor at Pennsylvania State University and an independent researcher, estimated that the death toll could be 10 times higher than the official government count.

The Center for Investigative Journalism reported Thursday that another estimate, from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the University of the City of New York, found that 1,065 more people than normal died in the months of September and October.

The records of the government of Puerto Rico show that some of the main causes of death in September were diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, although the causes of death are still pending for 313 of the deaths in September. The number of deaths from diabetes was 24 percent higher than last year, and 39 percent higher than in 2015.

But the biggest increase was in deaths from sepsis, a complication of serious infection, which increased by 50 percent. cent compared to the last year. This change is remarkable and could be explained by the delay in medical treatment or poor conditions in homes and hospitals.

Deaths from pneumonia and emphysema also had spikes.

Causes of death

Sept. 2015

Sept. 2016

Sept. 2017

Pct. change











Emphysema and other breathing disorders










Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

189 [19659084] 183



The New York Times | Source: Puerto Rico Demographic Registry, Department of Health of Puerto Rico (causes of death until December 4) | Note: The percentage change is the number of deaths in September 2017 compared to the average of deaths in September 2015 and September 2016.

For weeks, the Department of Public Safety of Puerto Rico insisted that the increase It was a coincidence: Government officials believed that hundreds of additional people had died of natural causes. But the media continued to investigate: CNN surveyed half of the island's funeral homes for an additional 499 deaths that the funeral directors believed were related to the storm.

Under pressure, the government asked funeral directors and family members to come forward with more information, and says their forensic science office is reviewing cases.

As more cases have come to light due to power failures in local hospitals or oxygen tanks that have run out, the government has said it is willing to review the count of deaths up.

"What we said is, give us the information," the governor, Mr. Rosselló, told the Times.

Robert Anderson, head of the mortality statistics section of the National Center for Health Statistics, said the peak of deaths in Puerto Rico is statistically significant and unlikely to be the result of an unfortunate stroke of luck. Not even a bad flu season would cause the death rate to rise too much, he said.

"I think there is quite convincing evidence that this increase is probably due to the hurricane," Anderson said. "That's a lot".

He said getting the right number was important.

"From the point of view of prevention and preparedness, I think it is extremely important to understand the circumstances behind the deaths that occur," Anderson said. "If we have a lack of information, we can not prepare adequately for the next disaster." We can not implement measures to prevent deaths from occurring in the future. "

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