As Anger Brews Over Hurricane Death Toll Discrepancies, Puerto Rico’s Health Department Sued For More Information
"We want to make sure that when the next hurricane arrives, we don't have a repeat of this situation," said Mario Marazzi-Santiago, the director of Puerto Rico's Institute of Statistics which filed the suit.
The Associated Press:
Puerto Rico Agency Sues Government To Obtain Death Data
Puerto Rico's Institute of Statistics announced Friday that it has sued the U.S. territory's health department and demographic registry seeking to obtain data on the number of deaths following Hurricane Maria as a growing number of critics accuse the government of lacking transparency. The lawsuit was filed Thursday, the same day Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told CNN there would be "hell to pay" if officials don't release mortality data. Puerto Rico's Health Department released some information Friday, saying an additional 1,397 overall deaths were reported from September to December in 2017, compared with the same period the previous year. However, officials did not provide causes of death for any of the 11,459 total people deceased during the period. (Coto, 6/1)
Puerto Rico Body Sues For Data To Help Track Hurricane Deaths
The measure comes in a week when a Harvard University-backed study showed that some 5,000 people -- and maybe more -- may have perished as a result of Maria, even as the government’s official death count remained at 64. The extreme underestimating of fatalities may have contributed to what many on the island criticized as an inadequate federal response. Most outside experts had little recourse to challenge the official estimates as the catastrophe was unfolding. "After the experience in Hurricane Maria, and with the new hurricane season beginning, it’s urgent to configure public information services so that after the next hurricane, information about fatalities registered in Puerto Rico flows in an open manner," Mario Marazzi-Santiago, the executive director of the institute, said in a press release. (Levin and Rivera, 6/1)