Why are there differences in the final death toll, and why do those differences still persist?

There are several numbers that are used counting the number of people who died on November 18, 1978, and more than one are accurate: it all comes down to who is included in the toll.

The grand total of deaths was 918.

Of that, 909 people died in Jonestown, with the other nine dying elsewhere (five at the Port Kaituma airstrip, four in Georgetown).

The number 914 can refer to one of two totals: Since four died in Georgetown, that means there were 914 bodies which the military removed from Jonestown/Port Kaituma.

The 914 figure is also the count for the number of members of Peoples Temple who died. The other four were Congressman Leo Ryan and the members of his party who were shot at the Port Kaituma airstrip; the fifth person killed at the airstrip was Patricia Parks, a defecting Temple member.

There are other numbers as well, but most of them rely upon information – press reports, official government releases – from the first 10 days after the tragedy before the toll was set at 918.

Answer uploaded January 2017

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