Hurricane Maria's Death Toll Is Probably Going To Get A Lot Worse

Reports say Puerto Rico is severely undercounting the casualties of Hurricane Maria — and the storm's dangers aren't over yet.
Posted at 9:04 PM, Oct 03, 2017

During his visit to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, President Trump praised officials for the island's low death toll.

Trump said: "Every death is a horror. But if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds of people who died. ... 16 people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud."

On the same day Trump made those comments, Puerto Rico updated its death toll to 34 casualties. And that increase could be just the start.

A report from Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism found that dozens, if not hundreds, of fatalities have so far gone uncounted by the government. 

The journalist behind that report told Vox that death certificates oftentimes aren't being documented because government officials can't show up to work.

And even though the hurricane has passed, the damage it caused is still posing a life-threatening risk for vulnerable people who may be cut off from medicine, food and water.

Hurricane Katrina left around 1,800 people dead in its wake. Hopefully Puerto Rico's casualties won't be anywhere near as severe — but that could largely depend on how effective recovery efforts are.