Wednesday, September 22, 2021

100s of shoes placed outside Puerto Rico’s capitol to honor hurricane deaths

A person holds a banner that reads ‘4,645 deaths and Daddy was one’, referring to those killed by Hurricane Maria, in front of hundreds of shoes placed in front of the Capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 01 June 2018. Harvard University published a paper estimating the death toll for Hurricane Maria at 4,645 deaths while The Puerto Rican Government’s official death toll is 64. EPA/Thais LlorcaFE

San Juan, Jun 1 (EFE).- Hundreds of shoes were placed outside of Puerto Rico’s capitol on Friday to honor the people who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which battered the island last September.

The shoes were placed on the ground by residents from around the island in a show of solidarity for those who lost their lives.

The government of Puerto Rico claims that 64 people died because of the hurricane, although a Harvard University study published this week estimates that 4,645 people died, especially because of the interruption of medical care.

Among those who atended the commemoration was Cristina Vazquez O’Neill, who stood in front of the shoes with a sign reading “4,645 deaths and my father was one of them.”

She told EFE that her dad, 60-year-old Luis Vazquez Rodriguez, who had diabetes and high blood pressure, died at his home in the city of Carolina after Hurricane Maria hit.

Some of the shoes included messages criticizing the government for not updating the number of people who died because of the hurricane.

The Harvard study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is based on a random survey of 3,299 households across Puerto Rico, which asked people about loss of human lives and causes of death during the three months after the storm hit on Sept. 20, 2017.