Fury over Donald Trump dismissing Puerto Rico hurricane death toll

President Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies at Calvary Chapel Guaynabo Puerto Rico in October

The White House, while describing any death from the hurricane as "a horror", sought to defend Trump's handling of the disaster, saying he had "directed the entire administration to provide unprecedented support to Puerto Rico".

The Puerto Rican government recently raised the official death count from the awful storm and aftermath to almost 3,000, but Trump cast doubt on that figure, claiming the Democrats inflated the number to make him look "as bad as possible". "But you know it's a little bit kind of like frustrating that the topic keeps coming and coming and coming".

Colbert, host of "The Late Show", said the president appeared to be "laser-focused on hurricane response this week - just not this one", referring to Hurricane Florence, which is bearing down on the Carolinas today.

On Thursday, Trump insisted in a pair of tweets that the official death toll was concocted by "Democrats" as part of a conspiracy to "make me look as bad as possible".

Trump called the death toll a move by Democrats to make him look "as bad as possible". "So I have no reason to dispute those numbers".

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", he tweeted. "But I don't agree with a lot of stuff that he says about us".

The "historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and un-American", said Rossello. "The loss of any life is tragic". And like I said, hey man, thank you for helping us.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz slammed Donald Trump as "paranoid" and "delusional". He is doubling down on his absurd and offensive suggestion that his response to Hurricane Maria past year was "incredibly successful".

Hurricane Maria killed 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, a long-awaited independent investigation by George Washington University into the 2017 storm concluded last month.

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. "Direct" deaths include such fatalities as drownings in a storm surge or being crushed in a wind-toppled building. "When I left the island after the storm had hit, they had anywhere from six to 18 deaths".

Trump insisted on Twitter that Democrats inflated the death toll "related to Hurricane Maria" to score political points against him.

Puerto Rico's government, which is neither Republican nor Democratic, but run by the New Progressive party, a pro-statehood, Puerto Rico-only party, accepted the 2,975 number as a legitimate estimate of the storm's true toll.

For much of the past year, the government had formally acknowledged just 64 deaths from the hurricane, which ravaged much of the territory and destroyed critical infrastructure. We are public health people.

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