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Downed power lines and debris are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Photo: Gerald Herbert / AP

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló ordered a recount Monday of every death on the island since Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20, as evidence continues to show that the official death toll grossly undercuts the true number, reports the New York Times.

By the numbers: The official death count is at 64. The Times' independent analysis, based on daily mortality data from Puerto Rico's vital statistics bureau, estimates that it's closer to 1,052.

Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism also estimated that 1,065 more people than usual had died in September and October of 2017 than in the same period in 2016 and 2015.

Methods for tolling the number of storm-related deaths vary by state and locality. The Times points out that some places only count direct deaths, such as people who drown in storm floodwaters. But Puerto Rico's method is less rigid, and deaths indirectly caused by a storm, such as suicides or death by infection, are included in the tally.

What they're saying: "This is about more than numbers, these are lives: real people, leaving behind loved ones and families," Rosselló said in a statement. Rosselló had previously repeatedly defended Puerto Rico's counting method. The Times suggests the recount is "an apparent about-face for his administration," as they couldn't ignore the mounting evidence that the toll does not accurately depict reality.

What's next: The recount will require interviewing doctors and family members of the dead to learn whether their cause of death could have been linked to the fallout from the storm. For example, a heart attack may have been brought on by the stress of the hurricane, or roads leading to the hospital may have been blocked by debris.

Go deeper: One-third of Puerto Rico still doesn't have power.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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Dave Lawler, author of World
5 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

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