At least 4,645 people — and perhaps as many as 5,740 — died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, according to a new study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The official government death toll for that devastating storm pales in comparison at 64, a figure the researchers called “a substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria.” Last October, President Trump used the low official death count to tell Maria victims they should be “proud” compared to the number of people who died in Hurricane Katrina. At least 1,833 people were killed by Katrina. At the time, the number of fatalities in Puerto Rico stood at 16.
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.