UPDATE — 8/29, 8:45 a.m. EDT: An independent study conducted by George Washington University released Tuesday shows nearly 3,000 people — 2,975 — died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Following the report’s publication, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who commissioned the study, updated the U.S. territory’s official death count.
In a recent report to Congress, Puerto Rican government officials acknowledged that 1,427 people, rather than the previous official estimate of 64, were killed by Hurricane Maria when it struck the U.S. territory on Sept. 20, 2017.
In the same report, the government outlined a $139 billion reconstruction plan for Puerto Rico.
CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in Puerto Rico sued Puerto Rican government officials in February to release and make public death and other records from Hurricane Maria. While officials attempted to stall the delivery of the information, a judge rejected that government’s motion and ruled in favor of the news organizations.
In order to get a more exact number of the death total, the government has commissioned an academic study with George Washington University that will be released later this month.
Previous studies have estimated that between 793 to 8,498 people died due to Hurricane Maria. The midpoint estimate of 4,645 has become a rallying cry for activists upset with progress post-Maria, though government officials state that the 4,645 figure is an exaggeration.
[CNN] [Politico] [NPR]