hurricane deaths

Puerto Rico National Guard by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

Puerto Rico's governor raised the U.S. territory's official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975 on Tuesday after an independent study found that the number of people who succumbed in the desperate, sweltering aftermath had been severely undercounted.

Puerto Rico's government began complying with a court order and released partial records Tuesday of deaths following Hurricane Maria. The data reveal that there were 1,427 more deaths in the last four months of 2017 than the average over the four years before. The new count comes as questions swirl around the official death toll and reports that hundreds of bodies remain unclaimed in the island's main morgue.

A big discrepancy between Puerto Rico’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria and lives lost according to Harvard researchers has prompted U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and other Democrats to call for new standards in counting storm deaths.