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WASHINGTON — The government of Puerto Rico has quietly admitted that the death toll from Hurricane Maria — a subject of great controversy — may be far higher than its official estimate of 64.

In a report to Congress dated Wednesday, the US commonwealth’s government says documents show that 1,427 more deaths occurred in the four months after the storm than “normal,” compared with deaths that occurred the previous four years.

The 1,427 figure also appeared in a draft of the report — “Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation” — which was published and opened for public comment July 9. The figure was first “revealed” by the Puerto Rico government, according to the final report, on June 13, one day after officials were forced by a judge to release death records that CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in Puerto Rico had sued to make public.

Officials stopped short of updating the official death toll for the September 20 storm.

“The official number is being reviewed as part of a study under way by George Washington University,” the report says. Officials hired that university to review the toll after news reports, including those from CNN, called it into question.

The George Washington University study “will have certainty” about the number of people the government believes died in Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, Pedro Cerame, a spokesman for the Puerto Rican government in Washington, told CNN. Officials initially said that report would be released in May. Now they expect it to publish this month.

“We understand that the number is higher,” Carlos Mercader, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, told CNN in an interview. “We didn’t commission the study to prove there were 64 (deaths). We wanted a scientific and epidemiological study that would give us light, not only on the number — we know the number is higher — but the reasons why this happened.”

The 1,427 figure is “an estimate,” Cerame said, and it may include deaths that weren’t related to the storm.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty via CNN.)