Puerto Rico governor says hurricane’s death toll has risen to 34
Puerto Rico has raised the official death toll caused by Hurricane Maria to 34, according to the territory’s governor.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello made the announcement at a press conference shortly after President Trump departed the island Tuesday evening, according to The Associated Press.
Just hours earlier, Rossello told Trump that the death toll was at 16.
Trump praised the island’s low casualty count at the time, remarking that the island’s residents should be “proud” it wasn’t higher.
“If you looked — every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing, nobody has seen anything like this,” Trump said earlier Tuesday. “What is your death count as of this morning, 17?”
“Sixteen people certified,” Rosselló responded.
“Sixteen people certified versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud.”
Experts expect Maria’s death toll on the island to rise as recovery efforts continue. At least 1,800 people died in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
Trump added Tuesday that saving lives on the island had thrown his administration’s budget “out of whack.”
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine,” Trump added. “We saved a lot of lives.”
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