"THEY WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN", she added. It made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, battering the island with winds of up to 155 miles per hour, ripping buildings apart and uprooting trees.
The government earlier acknowledged the death toll was much higher than their official figure of 64.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, fixing and replacing the island's bridges is a critical element to rebuild Puerto Rico's economy, Acrow said.
"The results of our epidemiological study suggest that, tragically, Hurricane Maria led to a large number of excess deaths throughout the island", Carlos Santos-Burgoa, the study's lead researcher, said in a statement.
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The new analysis looked at historical death patterns on Puerto Rico between 2010 and 2017, and compared those figures with the number of deaths that occurred between September 2017 - when the storm slammed the island - and February 2018.
Hurricane Maria killed 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, according to the results of a long-awaited independent investigation commissioned by the government of the USA island territory.
"We never anticipated a scenario of zero communication, zero energy, zero highway access", Gov. Ricardo Rossello told reporters. He said the government has improved its communication systems and established a network to distribute food and medicine, but he noted that there are still 60,000 homes without a proper roof and that the power grid is still unstable.
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In comparison, the death toll from 2005's Hurricane Katrina - the costliest hurricane in USA history - was far lower, and estimated at 1,833. In the second phase, the researchers plan to focus on the causes of death.
The study found doctors on the island were ill-equipped to properly classify deaths after a natural disaster and the government failed to prepare them before the 2017 hurricane season.
"Those interviewed said they did not receive information about how to certify deaths during, or in conditions created by, a disaster", according to the report.
The U.S. federal government has been heavily criticized for its response to the storm and the island's recovery efforts.
The researchers found that the risk of death was 45 percent higher for those living in impoverished communities, and that men older than 65 saw a continuous elevated risk of death.
Based on the study's findings, Maria's fatalities surpass those of Hurricane Katrina, which killed about 1,800 when it hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, and every other US natural disaster since the early 20th century.
The report, which analyzed processes related to death certification, says that physicians and forensic physicians are among those in Puerto Rico who are authorized to complete death certificates, but that most physicians have no formal training in how to do so.
Thus, like other jurisdictions that are part of the US, the death certification process can lead to an undercount of deaths related to disasters like Hurricane Maria. "If enacted, the recommendations of this report could help save lives in Puerto Rico and beyond".