Officials Say Puerto Rican Death Toll Is Higher Than Reported With Many Hospital Morgues At Capacity

SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 08:  Women pray following Sunday mass in a neighborhood without grid electricity more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island, on October 8, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Only 11.7 percent of Puerto Rico's electricity has been restored with the island suffering another setback when a substation in San Juan failed today. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Officials Say Puerto Rican Death Toll Is Higher Than Reported With Many Hospital Morgues At Capacity

Many say there have been dozens of uncounted dead bodies.

Published October 9, 2017

Although the federal government, including President Trump, has maintained that only a small number of people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, others have said there are dozens or hundreds more deaths that have not been reported. 

According to the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, are the initials in Spanish), there are dozens of hurricane-related deaths that have not been included in the official count, reported the Miami Herald.

Due to the lack of supplies and services being provided to Puerto Rican hospitals and emergency centers, there have been many storm-related deaths occurring at these facilities.

One example is 79-year-old Pedro Fontánez, who is bedridden at the Pavía Hospital in San Juan. Although he is due to be released, his home is still without the electricity he needs to use his oxygen and gastric tube-feeding devices. His daughter, Nilka Fontánez, was told by the government’s Emergency Operations Center they were not accepting patients.

“There’s no information,” Fontánez told the Miami Herald

The hospital morgues, in remote places where the government has yet to go, are at capacity, and the dead bodies have been unidentified. 

Public Safety Secretary Héctor Pesquera told the CPI the names of the dead have not been revealed because they cannot do so without notifying the families. However, due to a lack of resources several of the funeral homes are not able to remove the dead bodies from the morgues. It appears that the lack of both resources and proper communication has kept families from knowing a relative has died and has also kept the official number of dead at 16.

Additionally, people in Puerto Rico have said that they’ve buried relatives on their own, meaning they were not part of the death count. 

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)


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