SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico --'s governor is ordering authorities to review all deaths reported since Hurricane Maria hit nearly three months ago amid accusations that the U.S. territory vastly undercounted storm-related deaths. said in a statement on Monday that it's possible the toll is higher than the 64 deaths currently blamed on the Category 4 hurricane that hit on Sept. 20 with winds of up to 154 mph and .
"We always expected that the number of hurricane-related deaths would increase as we received more factual information—not hearsay—and this review will ensure we are correctly counting everybody," Rossello wrote in a statement. "This is about more than numbers, these are lives: real people, leaving behind loved ones and families. The Government needs to work with sensibility and certainty in the process of certifying a death related to the hurricane."
The New York Times did a review which found that 1,052 more people than usual had died in Puerto Rico in the 42 days after the hurricane. The newspaper reports the island's Center for Investigative Journalism found that 1,065 more people had died in September and October. According to CNN, funeral directors reported 499 more deaths than the total count that was linked to Maria.
Rossello's administration has repeatedly defended the official hurricane-related death count even though demographers said a spike in the number of deaths after the hurricane was not normal.
Officials have said the average number of daily deaths increased from 82 to 117 after the storm.
Parts of the island still remain without power.
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