|Damaged graves in the Villa Palmeras cemetery in San Juan, Puerto Rico circa 2017|
According to a new Harvard study released Tuesday the true number of deaths in Puerto Rico resulting from Hurricane Maria was actually a staggering 4,645.
That number is more than 70 times the official death toll figure of 64.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found Hurricane Maria left at least 4,600 people dead in Puerto Rico after the storm made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017.
The study found that the significant increase in deaths after Hurricane Maria was a result of interruption of medical care including accessing medications (14.4 percent), being unable to use respiratory equipment because of a lack of electricity (9.5 percent), having no open medical facilities nearby (8.6 percent) or having no doctors at medical facilities (6.1 percent).
Researchers said their 4,645 estimate is “likely to be conservative” and the death toll may actually exceed 5,000.
These figures bring into harsh focus Trump's now infamous visit to the island after the catastrophe when he downplayed Hurricane Maria’s disastrous toll claiming it hadn't been a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, which left over 1,800 dead while claiming that Puerto Rico’s official death toll was 16.
Trump then told the assembled press...
“Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s been taking place in Puerto Rico.”
Trump then ambled to a nearby airplane hangar to pass out food and supplies but stopped to address a camera to lament how much federal money was being spent on the disaster relief efforts...
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack — because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that’s fine, we’ve saved a lot of lives,”
He then entered the hangar and proceeded to lob paper towels at local residents...
San Juan's Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, whom had begged the federal government to increase rescue and relief efforts, responded to the Harvard study tweeting....
“It took too long to understand the need for an appropriate response was NOT about politics but about saving lives,”
Trump called Cruz “nasty” during the height of the disaster and alleged her description of the island's devastation and cries for more help were politically motivated.