Harvard estimates hurricane death toll in Puerto Rico at 4,600

Posted: Updated:
BRIDGEPORT -

Researchers at Harvard University say the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico may be more than 70 times higher than initial estimates.

Officials said 64 people died. The new Harvard study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found more than 4,600 may have lost their lives during the hurricane or due to the storm in the following weeks.

"They are Americans," says Edgar Rodriguez, a member of Bridgeport's Puerto Rican community who is working to raise money and awareness for the island's storm recovery. "We are Americans."

Rodriguez is part of the advocacy group United for PR. 

"It's not surprising, ultimately," he says. "We all knew that clearly 64 was impossible for such a devastating storm."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal says a lack of basic necessities is to blame for the much higher total.

"I'm demanding full accountability on the part of our government agencies," including FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, he says. "Our government bears a responsibility here."

The study also estimated that Maria caused about $90 billion in damage.

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