A new independent report commissioned by the Puerto Rican government has concluded that over 2900 people died directly and indirectly from Hurricane Maria, a figure that raised the official death toll from just 64.
, conducted by The George Washington University for the Puerto Rico government, found that approximately 2,975 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico last September. The figure is a carefully calculated estimate that attempted to find out "the estimate of excess mortality due to the hurricane" - meaning direct and indirect deaths from the storm.
Because the number is an estimate based on a variety of calculations, the report states that there's a 95 percent confidence interval that between 2,658 and 3,290 people died from the storm.
The 2,975 number - which is now considered the storm's official death toll - now formally places Maria as the second-deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, only behind the 1900 Galveston hurricane, and ahead of 2005's Hurricane Katrina. The total number of deaths has been a source for debate since the storm's immediate aftermath, due to "inadequate preparedness and personnel training for crisis and emergency risk communication, combined with numerous barriers to accurate, timely information and factors that increased rumor generation, ultimately decreased the perceived transparency and credibility of the Government of Puerto Rico", according to the report.
Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossello, is also creating a new commission to improve Puerto Rico's disaster response and emergency preparedness in response to the report.
There have been varying figures about how many people died in the storm, which made landfall on the southeast side of the island last September 20th as a high-end Category 4 hurricane. Figures have ranged from a few dozen (the official figure, prior to this report, was just 64) to as many as 3,000, as this current report estimates.
Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on Maria and the tropics this season.
For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi