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Puerto Rico gov breaks down hurricane-related deaths

By on October 4, 2017

SAN JUAN — It was announced on Tuesday night that the number of deaths related to Hurricane María rose from 16 to 34. On Wednesday Governor Ricardo Rosselló presented a breakdown of the fatalities registered over the past two weeks, among which he acknowledged were two suicides.

As informed by the governor during a press conference at the Convention Center in San Juan, which is currently serving as the government’s command center, the sudden increase of the death toll is due to the fact that on Tuesday afternoon he received updated information from the Forensic Science Institute (ICF by its Spanish initials), which included data on direct and indirect deaths.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló provided an updated figure of hurricane-related deaths, which increased as the government took into consideration indirect causes, according to data by the ICF. (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

“We had nothing to inform prior to the report we received yesterday afternoon when I was going to brief the press regarding the encounter with the president [Donald Trump], so I decided, rather than wait, to make the results public as soon as I received them,” the governor explained.

According to Rosselló, 20 of the 34 deaths were a direct result of the Category 4 storm and were related to floods, landslides or damages to the infrastructure. A second category attributed deaths to medical conditions, such as heart attacks.

The third category of deaths includes “post-hurricane” incidents, which involved two rescuers trapped in a landslide and two suicides. Lastly, three deaths were caused by machine failures, such as lack of electricity to supply oxygen.

Hospitals not operating at optimal levels

The governor assured that 63 of the island’s 69 hospitals have been “assisted” so they can offer health services. Of these, 24 were being supplied by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa), while the rest have been operating with power plants.

When asked what constitutes an “assisted hospital,” Rosselló detailed that: the infrastructure is not critically damaged, they have access to a power plant, and that they have the necessary medical personell.

“We recognize that the system isn’t optimal. We just went through a devastation, but the truth is that 63 of these centers are operating, receiving water, electricity, have the human resources to be able to operate, and if they didn’t, there are some capacities being sent,” he said.

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