Fury over Donald Trump dismissing Puerto Rico hurricane death toll

Howard TerrySep 14, 2018

US President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected the official death toll from last year's Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, saying it had been inflated to nearly 3,000 as part of a ploy to make him look bad.

"When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from six to 18 deaths", Trump said. He said the toll was no greater than 18 when he visited the island past year and "did not go up by much".

Stephen Colbert laid into President Donald Trump on The Late Show Thursday night after the commander in chief denied the death toll after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico as reported by his own government.

The 3,000 number is an approximation from a George Washington University study that estimated how many "excess deaths" occurred as a effect of Hurricane Maria, rather than as a result of the normal life cycle on the island.

Navarro said Thursday that that was because the president's tweets were politically damaging for those associated with him. I hate that people that make it a political issue.

Trump's comments drew outrage, with critics pointing out that Maria led to the deaths of almost 3,000 people.

It was that number on which Puerto Rican authorities based their official tally.

That number was produced by public health experts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in a report commissioned by the USA territory's governor, Ricardo Rossello.

The findings were embraced by the government of Puerto Rico as the study was released.

Trump's administration has been faulted for its response to Hurricane Maria.

Ryan didn't answer a question about whether Trump's claim disturbed him or whether Trump should apologize to the victims' families.

In January, Cora led a Red Sox delegation to Puerto Rico to distribute aid.

Cora's comments came as the US braces for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to cause heavy damage as it slams into the Carolinas this week.

"I think that the FEMA director and others who were there, I think they did everything they possibly could", U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart said.

The investigation looked at the total number of deaths from September 2017 through February 2018, and compared it with typical death rates, adjusting for many variables, including the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who evacuated the territory after the storm struck on Sept. 20. Rossello says, "It's not a time to fight, to have political noise, to use these things for the benefit of one party or another".

Trump, in a follow up Tweet on Thursday, blamed Democrats for the number, saying it was increased "in order to make me look as bad as possible".

There is no indication Trump raised "billions" to help rebuild the island and the government's Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) has said its response was strained after responding to two other major hurricanes weeks before Maria.

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