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December 13, 2017

Velázquez, Thompson Press for Explanation of Puerto Rico Death Toll

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, wrote the Government Accountability Office (GAO) demanding a review of the official death count in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. While the latest official death toll stands at 64, recent media reports have suggested the actual loss of life may be much higher, estimating 1,052 deaths can be attributed to Maria.

“It is clear from numerous reports that the official death toll in Puerto Rico may not be credible and is misleading the American people about the severity of Hurricane Maria and the efficacy of the federal response in its aftermath,” said Thompson. “The federal government has a clear role to play and a full review of the methodology Puerto Rico is using to determine the death toll must take place.  As Congress determines additional assistance for Puerto Rico in the coming weeks, it is critical we have a clear and accurate picture of what happened, including how many fellow Americans’ lives we lost.”

“Donald Trump came to Puerto Rico and shamefully bragged that the death toll was something to be proud of,” said Velázquez. “In the meantime, every credible statistical analysis suggests that the actual loss of life is staggeringly higher than the official numbers.  We need an impartial analysis of how many people have died and are dying from Maria in Puerto Rico so the public fully grasps the magnitude of this humanitarian crisis and our government responds appropriately.”

Link to Letter

Also, in October, Thompson and Velazquez wrote the Department of Homeland Security asking for an investigation into underreporting in the official death toll.

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Media contacts:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(Velázquez) Alex Haurek at 202-225-2361