Puerto Rico has raised the official death toll caused by Hurricane Maria from 16 to 34, just hours after President Trump departed the island Tuesday evening, according to The Associated Press.
At a meeting with officials in San Juan on Tuesday, Trump touted the nearly week-old death toll which was raised shortly after his departure.
“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 overpowering, nobody has seen anything like this,” Trump said. As many as 1,800 people died in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina breached levees protecting New Orleans.
“What is your death count as of this morning, 17?” he said.
“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.”
At one brief stop at a church, Trump told a gathering of hurricane survivors that they no longer needed flashlights before he tossed rolls of paper towels into the crowd as if they were basketballs. After a helicopter tour of the damage, Trump left an hour earlier than scheduled.
Here's Trump comparing the death count in Puerto Rico to the death count in a "real catastrophe like Katrina" pic.twitter.com/lNCz4wYvMn
— Tasneem N (@TasneemN) October 3, 2017
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the death toll in Puerto Rico included 19 people who died as a direct result of the storm and 15 whose deaths were caused indirectly by the storm. He also announced that Maria caused $90 billion in damage across the Caribbean island.
Nearly two weeks after the category four hurricane made landfall, 95 percent of electricity customers remain without power, including some hospitals.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says that there are now more than 10,000 federal officials on the ground on the island. The agency also said 45 percent of customers now have access to drinking water, up from 44 percent on Saturday. has said he hopes 25 percent of electricity customers will have power by the end of October.