Trump disputes Puerto Rico storm death toll, draws outcry

Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba Puerto Rico

Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba Puerto Rico

As Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas on Thursday morning, Trump disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria previous year, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

In a latest fit of fury, Trump successfully enraged millions of Americans by claiming the nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico after the devastation caused by two back-to-back hurricanes were fake news.

The death toll in Puerto Rico in the immediate aftermath of Maria grew from six to 13 by the time Trump arrived on the island. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths", Trump claimed in a tweet Thursday. "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000".

"They hired.GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?)", Trump added.

In Florida, which was badly hit by Hurricane Irma past year and which received thousands of Puerto Ricans fleeing the devastation of their homes, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis - who has built his campaign around his adherence to Trump's politics - tried to distance himself from the president's words.

"That's the official death toll from an independent study commissioned by Puerto Rico's government and yet our deranged president doesn't believe it", Meyers said.

Dr. Carlos Santos-Burgoa - the lead researcher on the study and a well-known expert in global health, particularly Latin America - told The Associated Press that the initial figure of 64 deaths reflected only people whose death certificates cited the storm.

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"I would never intentionally run a program incorrectly", he said. This week, President Trump said his administration did a good job in handling the response to Hurricane Maria. The fake news media, like CNN, have attacked President Trump for disputing the "scientists" who came up with the 3,000 number. They said, 'Throw 'em to me!

Jeff Byard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's associate administrator for response and recovery, said the important issue was that the hurricane would be a "Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast" and people had to heed evacuation orders.

Below is a list of studies that have estimated the death toll there.

This is not the first time Trump has tried to downplay the catastrophic hurricane, during his visit to the island soon after Maria hit, Trump said Puerto Ricans should be thankful it wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina.

The report concluded that the original count was low because doctors and forensic pathologists in Puerto Rico didn't have guidance from state or federal officials to accurately count those who died.

The Democratic lawmakers called on the administration to support more funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as back a formal review into what went wrong.

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