Trump disputes Puerto Rico hurricane death toll | 2018-09-14 |

Trump disputes Puerto Rico hurricane death toll

BBC     14th September, 2018 08:38:25 printer

Trump disputes Puerto Rico hurricane death toll


US President Donald Trump is disputing official findings that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of last year's storms.


"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter, without offering evidence for the claim.


He accused Democrats of inflating the official death toll to "make me look as bad as possible".


The official figure was released last month after an independent study.


On Thursday, Mr Trump tweeted that Democrats were attacking him "when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico".


The Republican president suggested the hurricane death toll was artificially boosted by adding those who had passed away from natural causes such as old age.


"Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!" he tweeted.


Mr Trump's tweets came as Hurricane Florence - a category two storm projected to bring catastrophic flooding - bore down on the US East Coast.


Where does the official death toll come from?


A George Washington University study in July found that 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island territory in September 2017.


The governor of Puerto Rico, who commissioned that research, said he accepted the estimate as official.


The study concluded the initial death toll of 64 only included those killed directly by hurricanes Maria and Irma - either by drowning, flying debris or building collapse.


George Washington University also counted those who died in the six months following the storm as a result of poor healthcare provision and a lack of electricity and clean water.


Repeated power cuts also led to an increased number of deaths from diabetes and sepsis.


Last May, Harvard University public health researchers published a study that estimated the death toll was even higher.


They said about 4,600 people died in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricane from delayed medical care.