Trump claims Maria death toll rose 'like magic'

15 September, 2018, 17:33 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba Puerto Rico

The death toll from Maria, the most powerful storm to hit there in nearly a century, was raised last month from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to 2,975.

In response, the Mayor of Puerto Rico's capital San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, tweeted: "Mr Trump you can try and bully us with your tweets BUT WE KNOW OUR LIVES MATTER".

Trump approvingly quoted Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera's Tweet saying the botched response was not entirely Trump's fault on Friday night. "Then, like magic, '3000 PEOPLE KILLED'".

"FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!" he tweeted late Friday.

Trump said there were "6 to 18 deaths" shortly after the storm hit Puerto Rico in 2017.

President Donald Trump ignited a storm of criticism Thursday by denying the death toll in Puerto Rico in wake of two devastating hurricanes previous year, and late-night comedians Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah pounded him hard.

Florence is forecast to dump up to a metre of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and SC.

Public health experts have estimated that almost 3,000 perished because of the effects of Maria.

Trump will travel to the region early to middle of next week and the trip will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts, according to Sanders.

"I don't know who picked the number 3,000", Graham said.

Last May, Harvard University public health researchers published a study that estimated the death toll was even higher.

They extrapolated that data to estimate 4,600 people died as a direct result of the hurricane, including those who were not able to access vital medical treatment.

"I thought you all wanted to talk about the Kavanaugh nomination", he said.

"Casualties don't make a person look bad", said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful", Trump said Tuesday in the Oval Office, noting that the island location is "tough" during a hurricane due to the inability to transport vital equipment and supplies by truck.

The NBC star didn't just target Trump for his Puerto Rico tweets, though.

Trump's anger over the death toll drew swift rebukes from elected officials and residents of the island, where blackouts remain common, 60,000 homes still have makeshift roofs and 13 per cent of municipalities lack stable phone or internet service. In the year since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, the Puerto Rican government's official death toll has risen several times. "This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference". After President Trump visited the island in October, the governor announced the death toll had risen to 34.

Puerto Rico's government is run by the New Progressive party, a pro-statehood, Puerto Rico-only party.



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