Puerto Rico’s death toll from Hurricane Maria rises to 62

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The death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has risen to at least 62, officials said on Saturday after four more deaths were attributed to the storm that hit the island in September. The death toll could still rise.

The Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety (DSP) said in a statement on Saturday that the four deaths are indirect and all occurred after the storm had passed. The official death toll has been disputed by some, but authorities insist that the number is unlikely to change significantly.

One of the cases now attributed to Maria occurred in the municipality of Aguada, where a generator had been installed in an area without ventilation. One person died of carbon monoxide poisoning after inhaling the fumes, the department said.

In Bayamón, a man was killed when his vehicle – which was parked on a slope – ran over him while unloading containers with water to distribute in his community. Another person suffered from depression in the wake of Maria and jumped from the 11th floor of a building in Carolina.

Another man suffered injuries in a fall while removing debris caused by the hurricane, the department said. The man underwent multiple surgeries and was receiving medical attention, but the victim suffered complications and was unable to recover, leading to his death.

“With these cases, there are now 62 deaths directly or indirectly related to Hurricane Maria,” DSP Secretary Héctor Pesquera said. “This process of evaluation and investigation has not yet concluded. I also reiterate that, if a person considers that a death could be related to the hurricane, he or she can submit the evidence to our consideration in order to direct the corresponding process.”

Puerto Rico was hit hard when Hurricane Maria made landfall as a powerful category 4 storm on September 20, causing major damage and an island-wide power failure. The recovery has been slow; 31 percent of the island remains without power and nearly 9 percent is still without water.

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