Puerto Rico hurricane: How was the 3,000 death toll worked out?

Donald Trump says Hurricane Maria’s Puerto Rico death toll is a ploy to make him “look bad”

President Donald Trump speaks during a Congressional Medal of Honor Society reception in the East Room of the White House. Susan Walsh AP

"He's talking about the one a year ago, because he's been tweeting a lot about what a great job he did responding to Hurricane Maria that decimated Puerto Rico last year, resulting in the death of nearly 3,000 American citizens".

Puerto Rico's governor raised the USA territory's official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975 after an independent study found the number of people who died in the aftermath had been severely under-counted.

'This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed.

Trump tweeted that the number of dead climbed from 16 to 64 "over many months".

Ms Cruz then shot back: "If he thinks the death of 3,000 people is a success God help us all". These activists have not made any attempt to count the actual number of hurricane-related deaths.

Trump tweeted Thursday morning about how the death toll had been exaggerated.

By Friday night, Florence, which had been downgraded from a hurricane, had dumped almost 20 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina.

That number was produced by public health experts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in a report commissioned by the USA territory's governor, Ricardo Rossello.

Other independent investigations into Hurricane Maria's effect on Puerto Rico have also estimated death tolls in the thousands, including ones by The New York Times, Penn State University and Harvard University.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has struggled to publicly express empathy at times of national crises, sparking outrage during his post-Maria visit when he feuded with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and tossed out paper towels to victims like he was shooting baskets.

Much of the Puerto Rico remained without power and running water for months after Maria hit, and many residents died while waiting for help.

As the United States braces itself for Hurricane Florence, it seems Trump is still determined to make people believe he did a great job during Hurricane Maria.

One important issue the GWU study raises is the process of recording deaths after the hurricane.

"They say all these people died in the storm in Puerto Rico, yet 70% of the power was out before the storm".

Earlier Friday, Trump quoted several of his allies supporting his theory that Puerto Rico's government faked the death count. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths", Trump wrote.

Milken leaders responded to Trump's claims in a Thursday press release, saying "we stand by the science underlying our study".

However, the Harvard researchers pointed out they were not giving a precise figure, and that there was an element of uncertainty in their estimates.

Trump has particularly been irritated by video footage of him throwing rolls of paper towels to a crowd of relief workers on the island, according to The Washington Post.

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