Puerto Rico government releases data showing increase in deaths after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico government releases data showing increase in deaths after Hurricane Maria

The Puerto Rican government released data on Friday showing that there were far more deaths following Hurricane Maria than previously reported. 

The report was released a day after Puerto Rico's Institute of Statistics filed a lawsuit seeking updated information on fatalities that occurred as a result of the hurricane, which ravaged the island in September.

A Harvard University study released this week estimated that at least 5,740 deaths could be attributed to the Hurricane Maria — more than 70 times higher than the initial government estimate.

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The data released Friday shows that there were at least 1,400 additional deaths in the months after Maria struck the island than during the same period the year before, according to The Washington Post.

The Harvard study, released Tuesday, noted that Puerto Rican officials had declined to disclose key mortality statistics that could shed more light on the lives lost after Maria. 

Puerto Rican officials had stopped providing updated information on the death toll from Maria in December, raising questions about the actual number of lives lost from the storm.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in an interview on CNN Thursday that he was "shocked" to hear that mortality statistics had been withheld from researchers, adding that there would be "hell to pay" if territory officials declined to release the data.

The federal government and the Puerto Rican government have continued to face questions about their response to the deadly storm. Months after the hurricane, several parts of the island remain without power, and concerns about the actual death toll remain.

Hurricane season began Friday.

The territory has also hired Washington, D.C.-based George Washington University to examine the number of deaths from the hurricane. That report was initially due out in May, but has since been pushed back.