Intended for healthcare professionals


Puerto Rico’s morgues full of uncounted bodies as hurricane death toll continues to rise

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 06 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4648
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Only a small fraction of the people who have died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island on 20 September, have been included in official statistics, reports indicate.

The category 4 storm forced 51 of the island’s 69 hospitals temporarily to close their doors to new patients. Sixty four hospitals are now at least partly operating, though only 17 have grid power and the rest are using generators. The 1000 bed US navy hospital ship Comfort arrived in San Juan harbour on 4 October to help with the relief effort.

With roads closed and phone services down, however, transfer and triage of patients at the most overcrowded emergency rooms is a major challenge. “We can’t communicate with anybody,” said Carlos Gomez Marcial, emergency medical director …

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