Trump rejects official Puerto Rico hurricane death toll

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FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!The George Washington University study Puerto Rico commissioned - after many months of public complaints that casualties from the storm had been under-counted - compared the total number of deaths in the months following Hurricane Maria with historical patterns and demographic trends.

A recent federal report found that almost 3,000 people died in Maria's wake in Puerto Rico, with damages estimated at about $100 billion.

The president wrote in a tweet, "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico".

Ryan added: "This was a devastating storm that hit an isolated island and that's really no one's fault".

"I was there a long time, there was a transformer fire and the power went out, when they started dying then?"

There is no indication Trump raised "billions" to help rebuild the island and the government's Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) has said its response was strained after responding to two other major hurricanes weeks before Maria.

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"They hired.GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?)", Trump added.

A military intelligence assessment warned days after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico of a "high" potential for government failure on the island, new documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee reveal.

Trump took to social media, claiming "3,000 people did not die" as a result of the storm and denouncing Democrats for inflating the death toll to hurt him.

In response, the Mayor of Puerto Rico's capital San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, tweeted: "Mr Trump you can try and bully us with your tweets BUT WE KNOW OUR LIVES MATTER".

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is now running for the US Senate, tweeted: "I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand".

Puerto Rico was recovering from Hurricane Irma before Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, destroying roads and bridges and leaving much of the Caribbean island without electricity for months.

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"Both Fed & local gov made mistakes", he said.

The president tweeted on Thursday as Hurricane Florence bore down on the Carolinas.

"Now, folks, if you watch the show, you know we kid the president about being a awful person", he said.

It was that number on which Puerto Rican authorities based their official tally.

Ottmar Chavez, now administrator of Puerto Rico's General Services Administration, said FEMA reported that it had about 20,000 pallets of bottled water in excess in May this year, before Chavez was appointed. "A true leader would offer his condolences to the people of Puerto Rico, a true leader would offer his condolences to United States citizens and vow to never let something like that happen again".

"I mean, at what point do you recognize that what they're doing is a political agenda, couched in the nice language of journalism?" Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who spent part of his youth in Puerto Rico, spoke on the House floor in front of a printout of the Puerto Rican flag, saying Trump is "delusional" and incapable of "empathy or basic human decency".

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Evan Vucci/APTrump tosses rolls of paper towels like basketballs to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.