San Juan Mayor: Death Toll May Be Much Higher

(CNN)-San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said Friday the death toll from hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico is actually hundreds higher than official government counts.

“It appears that for whatever reason the death toll is much higher than what has been reported,” Yulín Cruz said during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”

The official death toll stands at 55, according to a statement released to CNN by the government of Puerto Rico, but the number of dead may be almost as high as 500, Yulín Cruz said when asked specifically about the death count.

Many hurricane victims haven’t been included in that number due to their causes of death not being properly recorded or “being cataloged as dying of natural deaths,” Yulín Cruz said.

“When they were, for example, hooked to a respirator, there’s no power, the small generator that they had that gives up, and of course, they die of natural causes, but they are related to a lack of electricity,” she said.

According to a statement released October 28 by the government of Puerto Rico, 911 bodies cremated in the weeks after Hurricane Maria were the result of natural causes. But the average number of cremations in Puerto Rico in the same time frame is about half that, Yulín Cruz said.