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What is the real death toll? Puerto Rico cremated more than 900 people in the days after Hurricane Maria struck - but official figures claim only 51 died

16:20, Monday, 30 October, 2017
What is the real death toll? Puerto Rico cremated more than 900 people in the days after Hurricane Maria struck - but official figures claim only 51 died

Hurricane Maria's death toll in Puerto Rico has hit 51, but there have been 900 cremations on the island since the deadly storm made landfall on September 20.
     The Puerto Rican government is permitting funeral homes and crematoriums to burn the bodies of people who they say died as a result of Hurricane Maria — but those people are not being counted in the official death toll, according to a report from Buzzfeed News.
     The directors say in many cases they don't know how to classify hurricane-related deaths, or whether they should send bodies to the central institute certifying official hurricane deaths, the Institute of Forensic Sciences.
     Because of this confusion, the official death count likely does not include all deaths from the devastating storm.

Accurate death toll data is important because it can be used to help governments prepare better for future disasters.
     For families, correctly identifying deaths that are hurricane-related is important when it comes to getting insurance money.
     'In a national disaster you're one of however many and everyone is focused on food, water, life support,' Robert Jensen, CEO of disaster relief contractor Kenyon International, said, 'and that makes it just a little bit harder for the families of the dead because it feels like their life didn't matter.'
     When President Trump visited the U.S. territory on October 3, he boasted that the death toll was just 16.
     By the time he returned to Washington that day, the toll had doubled. It is now 51, but the Department of Health and Public Safety said that the death toll will not rise unless a body is sent to the island's capital of San Juan to be reviewed by a medical examiner.

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