Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Trump claims Maria death toll rose 'like magic'

Massive stockpile of bottled water found in Puerto Rico a year after Maria ‘3000 people did not die’: Trump rejects Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico
Ellis Copeland | 16 September, 2018, 14:38

As happens often, congressional Republicans were blindsided Thursday morning by a tweet, as President Donald Trump challenged without evidence the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico from last year's Hurricane Maria.

George Washington University stood by the science behind its findings, calling the figure of 2,975 deaths "the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date". Trump visited the island in early October to assess the situation amid widespread criticism over the recovery efforts.

The Trump administration has faced other scrutiny over its handling of last year's hurricanes in recent months.

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

"I have no reason to dispute those numbers", Ryan added.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Trump's tweets "shameful" and said the president owes "3,000 families in Puerto Rico an apology". He also said he thought Trump "sees every attack on him as sort of undercutting his legitimacy".

On Wednesday, Puerto Rican officials said about 20,000 pallets of water bottles shipped to Puerto Rico after Maria went unused and became too contaminated to drink. "I don't think it's bad to say we could have done better in Puerto Rico". The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching.

The White House defended the president on Thursday.

"As the President said, every death from Hurricane Maria is a horror".

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

He ripped the Mayor of San Juan for allegedly playing the political game.

Along with post-storm conditions, each death has a complex mix of causes making it hard to definitively apportion blame in every case.

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"This is what denial following neglect looks like", declared San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz in response to Trump's tweets.

She then added, "It's sad to me that a natural disaster has to get political, I don't think President Trump is exclusively to blame for what happened, Puerto Rico had a number of its own problems before Maria even hit, they were filing for bankruptcy".

The deaths fell in two categories: direct and indirect.

The official death toll later grew to 64, a figure that included "indirect deaths" connected to the hurricane.

Last month, Hurricane Maria's death toll was found to be much higher than that of Katrina.

Echoing Cruz's condemnation of Trump's tweets, Democratic lawmakers also expressed outrage that the president would attempt to downplay the number of people who died as a result of a natural disaster and US government neglect.

August 28, the government of Puerto Rico officially announced the death toll from Hurricane Maria as 2,975 making it the most severe natural disaster in the island's history.

POTUS seems to be forgetting the fact there was nearly ZERO electricity or clean water on the island for several months - factors that increased deaths according to several investigative reports.

"I'm not to blame for this", Trump said about Maria at one point, according to one of his advisers.

"In light of this, we have been in contact with FEMA and the Department of Health to test the water inventory received by the federal agency".

Puerto Rico's government is run by the New Progressive Party, a pro-statehood, Puerto Rico-only party made up of both Republicans and Democrats. Gov. Ricardo Rossello told CBS New York on Thursday that he was a Democrat but stressed that the government sought the study and said it "tried to make this process a completely independent process".

Likewise, the candidates running for Florida governor quickly responded to Trump's attempts to undermine the latest death toll.

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