AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico — Funeral home and crematorium directors are being permitted by the Puerto Rican government to burn the bodies of people who they say died as a result of Hurricane Maria — without those people being counted in the official death toll.
Those directors say they are unclear on how to classify hurricane-related deaths and whether they should send bodies to the central institute certifying official hurricane deaths, called the Institute of Forensic Sciences. The result is likely suppressing the official death count, which has become a major indicator of how the federal government’s relief efforts are going because President Trump himself made it one.
During Trump’s photo-op visit to the US territory — whose residents are US citizens — three weeks ago, he boasted that the death toll was just 16. It doubled by the time he returned to Washington that same day. The death toll is now at …
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