Puerto Rico has deaths from possible disease
Four die as people turn to streams out of thirst
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Four deaths in Hurricane Maria’s aftermath are being investigated as possible cases of a disease spread by animals’ urine, Puerto Rico’s governor said amid concerns about islanders’ exposure to contaminated water.
A total of 10 people have come down with suspected cases of leptospirosis, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said at a news conference.
On a U.S. territory where a third of customers remain without running water three weeks after the hurricane, some became ill after turning to local streams to relieve their thirst.
Jorge Antonio Sanyet Morales, a 61-year-old bus driver, took a drink from a stream near his concrete home on a hillside in Canovanas a week after the Sept. 20 storm. He then developed a fever, his skin turned yellow and within a week, he died at a hospital in Carolina, according to his widow, Maritza Rivera.
The water was still not running at Sanyet’s house this week, but Rivera said she and her family were drinking only bottled water, including some delivered by the town.
“He was a friend to everyone,” Ri- vera said. “I don’t know how I’ll face everything without him.”
Forty-five deaths in Puerto Rico have been blamed on Hurricane Maria, which tore across the island with 150 mph winds. Ninety percent of the island is still without power and the government says it hopes to have electricity restored completely by March.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration ordered two big corporations this week to pay $115 million to clean up a Texas toxic waste site that may have spread dangerous levels of pollution during flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a directive requiring International Paper and Mcginnis Industrial Maintenance Corp., a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc., to excavate 212,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the San Jacinto River Waste Pits.