Puerto Rican MLB manager rips Trump for denying hurricane death toll
© Anna Moneymaker

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a Puerto Rico native, called President Tump's comments about the Hurricane Maria death toll on Thursday "disrespectful" while lamenting the natural disaster being turned into a political issue.

"You know, 3,000, six, 18. I don’t know," Cora said in a press conference while referring to those who died in the aftermath of Maria last year, according to NBC Sports Boston.

"We will never know how many, how many we lost. I hate that people that make it a political issue. This is about human beings. The people that went through this, they know what happened," he added.

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"To be tweeting about 3,000 people and be efficient, it’s actually disrespectful for my country. We see it that way. I know probably he doesn’t feel that way."

Cora, who was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, said that he's thankful that the Trump administration helped the residents of Puerto Rico in the storm's aftermath. But he added that he didn't know if the assistance it offered was enough. 

His comments came hours after Trump accused Democratic lawmakers of inflating Hurricane Maria's death toll to "make [him] look as bad as possible."

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," Trump tweeted early Thursday morning. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.

"This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible." 

The comments were quickly met with widespread backlash from Democratic and GOP lawmakers. 

"The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching," Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a vocal supporter of Trump's who is running for Senate in November, tweeted on Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida secretary of state who resigned apologizes for blackface photos The Hill's Morning Report — Trump complicates border wall negotiations Parkland parents ask Pulitzer panel to honor local paper for school shooting coverage MORE (R-Fla.), who is running to replace Scott as governor, also issued a statement saying he is "committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life." 

Researchers from George Washington University published a study in late August estimating that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria.

The figure represented a sharp increase from the official death count of 64 and led the Puerto Rican government to update its official death count for the storm.

George Washington University issued a statement on Thursday backing the researchers who led the study. 

"We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria," GWU's Milken Institute School of Public Health said in a statement.

The government of Puerto Rico later referred to the number as a "fact."