Puerto Rico issues new data
Eight days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Efrain Perez felt a pain in his chest.
Doctors near his small town sent him to Puerto Rico’s main hospital in San Juan for emergency surgery for an aortic aneurysm. But when the ambulance pulled into the parking lot in the capital, San Juan, after a more than two-hour drive, a doctor ran out to stop it.
“He said, ‘Don’t bring him in here, I can’t care for him. I don’t have power. I don’t have water. I don’t have an anesthesiologist,’” Perez’s daughter, Nerybelle, recalled.
The 95-year-old Perez died as the ambulance drove him back to southwestern Puerto Rico but he is not included in the island’s official hurricane death toll of 64 people, a figure at the center of a growing legal and political fight over the response to the Category 4 storm that hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017.
Facing at least three lawsuits demanding more data on the death toll, Puerto Rico’s government released new information that added detail to the growing consensus that hundreds or even thousands of people died as an indirect result of the storm.