Trump disputes Puerto Rico storm death toll, draws outcry

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US President Donald Trump has rejected the widely accepted death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and claimed without citing evidence that "3000 people did not die". He said the toll was no greater than 18 when he visited the island past year and "did not go up by much".

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora expressed frustration Thursday when asked about President Donald Trump downplaying the number of people who died in the aftermath of a hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico one year ago, calling the President's tweets "disrespectful".

"Although you don't believe it... nearly a million boxes of water that were never delivered to the villages", posted Abdiel Santana, a photographer working for a Puerto Rican state police agency who took the pictures.

Trump's tweet came a day after he praised his administration's response to the storm, and bashed Mayor Cruz for allegedly sabotaging the relief effort to score political points against him.

Ryan said the numbers were "a function of a devastating storm that hit an isolated island", and added, "that's no one's fault".


After Trump received backlash from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers over this false claim, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley released a statement Thursday that said, "As the President said, every death from Hurricane Maria is a horror". "Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after a tragic loss of life".

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

George Washington University stood by its estimate.

"If (Trump) doesn't learn from his mistakes, he's going to make them again and people are going to continue to die", she told CNN television.

"Hey, man, thank you for helping us".


Carlos Mercader, head of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, said in a statement FEMA didn't deliver the bottles to the Puerto Rican government until April, USA Today reported.

San Juan mayor and frequent Trump critic Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted in response to the president, "This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch".

Photos have emerged showing 20,000 pallets of bottled water meant for victims still sitting on a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, a year after the storm. "It's just what happened".

After Trump blamed democrats for reporting a higher death toll from the September 2017 storm, Cora said he doesn't think the matter should be viewed as a political issue. But I think this is more than politics.

Trump called the death toll a move by Democrats to make him look "as bad as possible".


But Trump has continued to praise his own government's response to the disaster in Puerto Rico. He added that "casualties don't make a person look bad". An "independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. (Ricardo) Rosselló agreed", wrote Scott, who is running for the Senate.

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