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US Puerto Rico seeks to delay death records release from Hurricane Maria

23:05  12 june  2018
23:05  12 june  2018 Source:   cnn.com

San Juan mayor: Trump administration ‘completely looked away’ over hurricane death toll

  San Juan mayor: Trump administration ‘completely looked away’ over hurricane death toll San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said that the Trump administration has "looked away" from Puerto Rico after a study found a significantly higher death toll from Hurricane Maria than was officially announced. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said that the Trump administration has "looked away" from Puerto Rico after a study found a significantly higher death toll from Hurricane Maria than was officially announced.

Puerto Rico fought the release of these records in court, arguing that at least some parts of the records should be kept private out of concern The lawsuits by CNN and CPI follow the accumulation of evidence suggesting Puerto Rico 's official death toll for Hurricane Maria , which stands at 64, is a

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4 hurricane on September 20, 2017, resulting in the island's most severe natural disaster in modern history.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 23: A tree toppled by Hurricane Maria rests over damaged graves in the Villa Palmeras cemetery on December 23, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. A recount was ordered by the governor as the holiday season approached. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) © Mario Tama/Getty Images South America/Getty Images SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 23: A tree toppled by Hurricane Maria rests over damaged graves in the Villa Palmeras cemetery on December 23, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. A recount was ordered by the governor as the holiday season approached. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN last month that there would be "hell to pay" if officials withheld records related to Hurricane Maria.

A judge just ordered Puerto Rico to release all death certificates issued after Hurricane Maria

  A judge just ordered Puerto Rico to release all death certificates issued after Hurricane Maria The government was trying to keep the death records from the press.Load Error

The Puerto Rican government is seeking to extend a deadline to release records pertaining to the death toll from Hurricane Maria , claiming that it needs more One highly publicized study by Harvard University researchers claimed there were 4,645 additional deaths in Puerto Rico due to Maria .

Puerto Rico asks for delay in release of death records to CNN, local news The Hill. Democratic Lawmakers Call For Federal Process To Calculate Death Tolls The Denver Channel.

Yet his government filed a motion late Monday asking for permission to stall the delivery of death certificates and other data a judge had ordered to be released to CNN and the Center for Investigative Journalism, or CPI, after the organizations sued for access to those records.

In response, the court said it would not lift its requirement that records be released to CNN and CPI by Tuesday.

"This new delay tactic (speaks) to the Rosselló government's credibility," said Carla Minet, executive director of CPI. "The government didn't need seven days to hand in most of the information -- and yet they haven't delivered anything at this point, even when they publicly stated that they would comply with the court."

"Transparency is a word they just don't understand," she added.

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  At FEMA, Trump remained mum on new Puerto Rico death toll President Donald Trump visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday, just over a week after a new Harvard study estimated more than 4,600 people in Puerto Rico died in Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. But even as he was briefed on the upcoming hurricane season, the President remained mum on the new estimate, which dwarfs the government's official 64-person death toll. Instead, the President praised FEMA and other US officials, telling them they should be "very proud" of their work to beat back last year's devastating hurricane season.

The Puerto Rican government is seeking to extend a deadline to release records pertaining to the death toll from Hurricane Maria , claiming that it needs The precise death toll related to Hurricane Maria has been the subject of much guesswork since the storm devastated the island in September.

Puerto Rico seeks to delay release of records related to Maria 's death toll. While his government fought in court to keep these records private, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló argued publicly that commonwealth authorities were promoting transparency, telling CNN's Anderson Cooper there would

CNN and CPI planned to file motions in opposition to the government's request for delay.

The news organizations planned to meet with government attorneys at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The judge asked to be notified of the results of that meeting by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The organizations sued for death certificates and databases in February after officials from the Puerto Rican Demographic Registry refused to provide the documents. The records and data relate to CNN and CPI's independent investigations of the death toll from Hurricane Maria, which evidence suggests is substantially higher than officials have reported.

The Puerto Rican judge on June 4 had ordered the US commonwealth to release, within seven days, death certificates, death databases, burial permits and other records to CNN and CPI.

Ramón Rosario, Puerto Rico's secretary of public affairs and public policy, issued a statement the following day saying the government would comply with the court order, adding that it is the government's policy is to "work with strict transparency and facilitate access to all public information."

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  Americans Question if Trump Cares for Hurricane Victims When asked how much Trump cares about the needs and problems of Hurricane Maria victims, the most common response in a new poll was "not at all."The survey asked, "How much do you think Donald Trump cares about the needs and problems of people affected by Hurricane Maria?" Fifty-four percent responded either "not much" or "not at all"—21 percent "not much" and 33 percent "not at all." According to YouGov, 46 percent thought Trump either cared "a lot" or "some" about the hurricane victims' needs—21 percent "a lot" and 25 percent "some.

Lawsuit filed as a growing number of critics say the official toll of 64 deaths due to the storm is a severe undercount.

" Puerto Rico fought for the release of these documents in court, claiming that at least some parts of the mail should be kept private concern about the The CNN and CPI trial follows the accumulation of evidence indicating that Puerto Rico 's official death penalty for Hurricane Maria , who is 64, is a

With the deadline for delivery of those records approaching, however, Puerto Rico on Monday filed a motion asking the court to lift the seven-day requirement for the delivery of the records.

Puerto Rico's motion had asked the court to consider the volume of the records request and difficult circumstances facing the US commonwealth's government, including budget cuts, personnel shortages and austerity measures brought about both by the hurricane and the debt crisis that had crippled Puerto Rico in the years before the storm.

"Reaffirming our work to faithfully comply with the judgment in this case, we understand that the seven days granted to the state are not enough to accomplish this process that we're just starting," wrote Wanda Vázquez Garced, secretary of justice, and other officials.

Puerto Rico wishes to maintain the "highest level of transparency," the motion said.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Puerto Rican authorities said they would begin to release some information to CNN and CPI that same day. Officials did not specify which information and maintained they needed more time to process records.

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  Puerto Rico small businesses get a helping hand after Hurricane Maria A new initiative announced Friday will help small businesses on the island of Puerto Rico like the Humacao Nature Reserve, which have suffered in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Aid group Mercy Corps will partner with Google to provide grants and fund development.Before Hurricane Maria whipped through Puerto Rico last September, the Humacao Nature Reserve was a popular tourist attraction. Located on the island’s southeastern coast, the reserve was a picturesque place where visitors could hike, bird-watch, fish or kayak.

Puerto Rico seeks to delay release of records related to Maria 's death toll. The data will include many deaths that occurred after the storm but were unrelated to Hurricane Maria . The network intends to post all of the names online in a searchable database and to ask its audience to help investigate

The records and data relate to CNN and CPI's independent investigations of the death toll from Hurricane Maria , which evidence suggests is substantially Puerto Rico fought the release of these records in court, arguing that at least some parts of the records should be kept private out of concern

"(W)e have invested all of our resources and efforts in complying with the order, however we must be extremely careful with the information we are sharing and understand that (the) court was clear in that we should protect sensitive information such as people's social security numbers," said Dr. Rafael Rodríguez Mercado, Puerto Rico's secretary of health. "So it will be necessary to request more time to protect the deceased and their families and comply with each of the instructions given to us."

Experts say Puerto Rico does not have a clear public records law, meaning that journalists and others seeking public information must sometimes sue in order to obtain it.

"It's totally contradictory" for the government to ask for a delay while claiming it would comply with the judge's order, said Javier Villa, news director of Radio Universidad, a radio station affiliated with the University of Puerto Rico. "It appears the government doesn't want the public and the press to know what is going on -- and (that) they are trying to delay this."

Puerto Rico fought the release of these records in court, arguing that at least some parts of the records should be kept private out of concern for the privacy of the deceased.

Meanwhile, the governor touted Puerto Rico's approach to government transparency in a May 31 interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

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  Puerto Rican Day Parade show post-hurricane pride The National Puerto Rican Parade in New York turned into its usual boisterous celebration Sunday, but many participants also saw it as an occasion to express their more somber concerns over the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.Along the parade route in the heart of Manhattan, people carried signs with tributes like "New YorkNEW YORK — The National Puerto Rican Parade in New York turned into its usual boisterous celebration Sunday, but many participants also saw it as an occasion to express their more somber concerns over the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico officials originally set the hurricane 's death toll at 64, but a more recent assessment of the data yielded an estimate closer to 3,000. The Category 4 hurricane was the worst natural disaster ever to strike the United States territory and the third costliest storm on record , having caused an

The official death toll from Hurricane Maria is 64, but Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello admitted this number is inaccurate. (RELATED: Puerto Rico Seeks To Delay Release Of Death Records Related To Hurricane Maria ). A highly publicized study by Harvard University said that there were

Cooper asked Rosselló why officials would not provide death records to the Harvard University researchers who were conducting an assessment of Maria's death toll.

"If it's true, Anderson, you know, there will be hell to pay," Rosselló said. "Because I really want this to be very transparent. I want the truth to come out. That's the bottom line. And I want us to learn from this tragedy, so that we can prevent in the future something like this happening."

The lawsuits by CNN and CPI follow the accumulation of evidence suggesting Puerto Rico's official death toll for Hurricane Maria, which stands at 64, is a vast underestimation.

In November, CNN surveyed 112 funeral homes across the island, about half the total. Funeral home directors and staff identified 499 deaths they considered to be hurricane-related.

Several months after the storm, CNN found people were still dying in remote parts of Puerto Rico without access to electricity, hospitals and other basic services.

In May, researchers from Harvard and elsewhere published an article in The New England Journal of Medicine claiming an estimated 4,645 people may have died in the storm. That estimate was based on interviews with more than 3,000 households across Puerto Rico.

Cristian Arroyo and Leyla Santiago contributed to this report.

Trump to Puerto Rico governor: I think we've helped you a lot .
President Trump on Thursday told the governor of Puerto Rico that his administration has done "a lot" to help the territory recover after two devastating hurricanes that hit last year. Trump made the comments to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló during a working lunch with U.S. governors, according to reporters in the room. .⁦President Trump on Thursday told the governor of Puerto Rico that his administration has done "a lot" to help the territory recover after two devastating hurricanes that hit last year.

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