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Puerto Rico deaths spiked nearly 500 in September

Despite a death count of less than 60 deaths attributed to Hurricane Maria, nearly 500 more people died during the month of the storm than normal according to officials.

Authorities on the island said Wednesday that 472 more people died this September than the same month in 2016, up from 2,366 to 2,838

Those watching the destruction and recovery after the hurricane, which struck on Sept. 20 and wiped out power to the entire territory, have long speculated that the death count may be much higher than the figure released.

The official toll of those killed as a result of Maria is 55.

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Puerto Rico reported Wednesday that its average death rate increased from 82 per day in the two weeks before Maria to 117 in the two weeks afterwards.

Federal government response was slammed in the wake of the damage as a lack of electricity and clean water have persisted for large parts of the population. 

OCT. 7, 2017 PHOTO

Puerto Rican National Guard soldiers deliver food and water, brought via helicopter, to residents of Morovis.

(Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Problems such as lack of air conditioning are believed to have contributed to the deaths of those already sick who may have survived without the storm.

One family told the New York Times that their baby Isaías was born prematurely but had stabilized before the hurricane, which knocked out power and led to the hospital running on a generator.

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The boy died three weeks later, with a sepsis infection listed among the causes.

Puerto Rico secretary of public safety Héctor Pesquero said Wednesday that families who believe their loved one’s death was caused by the hurricane should file reports.

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