Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Trump pushes conspiracy theory denying Puerto Rico hurricane death toll

Nicholas Kamm  AFP  Getty Images Nicholas Kamm AFP Getty Images
Ellis Copeland | 14 September, 2018, 16:11

President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico from last year's Hurricane Maria, arguing without evidence that the number was wrong and calling it a plot by Democrats to make him "look as bad as possible".

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

The study, which was conducted without the backing of any political group, surveyed 3,000 residences across the United States' territory and found Puerto Ricans died at a much higher rate in the four months following the hurricane than in the same time period a year earlier. Clearly, a lot of factors - including the inadequacy of local infrastructure, the sheer difficulty of providing help to an island, and the mistakes of local government - contributed to the ghastly death toll. When Trump finally visited the ravaged island, he left a lasting image by tossing paper towels at survivors as if they were trained seals.

Trump's comments come as Hurricane Florence, now a category 2 storm, hurtles towards the Carolina coast, threatening millions in its path.

He added in a tweet: "The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching".

Cruz maintains the federal government's response to the hurricane was slow and inadequate while Trump said it was a success.

The statement Thursday is in response to President Donald Trump's tweet rejecting the study's conclusion.

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The president defended the federal government's "fantastic job" in Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list.

Harvard University estimated hundreds died from no electricity for medical services, or hurricane-related injuries and illnesses.

Hurricane Maria hit on September 20, 2017, about two weeks after Hurricane Irma hit the island.

"Only Donald Trump could see the tragedy in Puerto Rico and conclude that he is the victim", said Sen. This is San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, responding to Trump. Salon notes that nobody corrected him by pointing out that Puerto Rico is a territory of the US.

A study commissioned by the Puerto Rican government said the number was nearly 3,000 people, something Trump shot down on Twitter.

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

Bahamonde said FEMA made a decision to move the bottled water to the runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, and make them available on a government contract in January, as demand for the water from the Puerto Rican government decreased.

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