Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Hurricane Maria killed 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, according to the results of a long-awaited study commissioned by the US government, amid controversy over the true toll of the 2017 storm.

“The results of our epidemiological study suggest that, tragically, Hurricane Maria led to a large number of excess deaths throughout the island,” said principal investigator Carlos Santos-Burgoa, a professor of global health at George Washington University.

The study tracked excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria from September 2017 to February 2018, and found the toll was “22 percent higher than the number of deaths that would have been expected during that period in a year without the storm.”

The government’s long-standing official death toll from Maria has been just 64 for the island territory which is part of the United States.

A study by Harvard University earlier this year estimated around 4,600 had died in the three months following the storm.

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