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Hurricane María death toll in Puerto Rico rises to 16

By on September 25, 2017

Landslides, floods, thousands of homes destroyed, 15,000 evacuees, 5,000 rescued and incalculable damage to infrastructure and the environment. This is the aftermath of María, a Category 4 hurricane, when passing over Puerto Rico, where it also downed the electric grid, the water service and communications. An aerial view of one of the governor’s trips to assess the damage. (Courtesy).

SAN JUAN – As roadways continued to be cleared and communication with municipalities is restored, the Puerto Rico government reported that the number of Hurricane María-related deaths on the island rose to 16.

In addition to the 10 deaths reported as of Sunday, the Secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy, Ramón Rosario, said there are six more: a person trapped by a collapsing roof in Río Grande, one killed by a landslide in Jayuya, another by an overflowing river in Aguadilla, one who fell in Hormigueros, a person who drowned in Vega Alta and someone killed by an “impact” in Fajardo.

The official also said the government was finally in contact with the nine mayors it had yet to get any information from, adding that 25 arrests were made Sunday for curfew violations and three businesses were penalized for breaking the dry law, which prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages.

The official urged people to stay in their homes between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., per Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s order establishing an indefinite curfew.

More than 5,000 people rescued

Rosario announced that the State Agency for Emergency Management and Disaster Management (Aemead) carried out 10 “targeted” missions in the past few days to rescue more than 5,500 people in eight municipalities: Toa Baja, Arroyo, Corozal, Utuado, Yauco, Barranquitas, Florida and Orocovis.

Specifically in Toa Baja, there were severe flooding reported in Levittown and about 2,000 people were rescued on dawn Friday.

In Ceiba, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rescued 59 people, and agency personnel are on their way to a handful of municipalities to conduct damage reports.

There were still no damage reports for each municipality, but Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González said that in Adjuntas, for instance, about 1,000 homes were destroyed by María, the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in the past 80 years and that has kept the island without power and nearly incommunicado.

Meanwhile, the Public Affairs secretary requested public employees to report to their respective workplaces Tuesday. In the case of central government employees, he said they could report to municipal governments or emergency management centers for mayors to assign them their  duties.

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