Trump admin killed Puerto Ricans with neglect, mayor says

Thousands of homes in the city of Galveston Texas were reduced to rubble by a hurricane on Sept. 8 1900

Trump visited Puerto Rico in October previous year after the storm, where he infamously said officials should be "very proud" of the 16-person death toll compared with "a real catastrophe, like Katrina".

But the higher figure, based on the findings of researchers from George Washington University in a study commissioned by the United States commonwealth's government, is only an approximation, not a concrete list of names, according to Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

He echoed one finding in the report - that doctors "lacked awareness" on how to appropriately certify deaths attributed to natural disasters.

Puerto Rico needs to conduct after-action reviews and use those, along with the results of the study, to create a new crisis and emergency risk communication plan, one that is integrated with government agency and municipal plans, has community and stakeholder involvement, and is aligned with the possibility of catastrophic disasters.

The president was at the White House on Wednesday announcing a grant for drug-free communities when reporters asked him about aid for Puerto Rico. He said he can not order the government "to do that which in a humanitarian and caring world should be done".

They also reported that physicians and others told them that Puerto Rico's government did not notify them about federal guidelines on how to document deaths related to a major disaster.

Mr Trump said in early October 2017 he was happy with the federal response to Maria, saying it compared favourably with a "real catastrophe like Katrina".

"It's 2,975 people, and they're still calling it an estimate - 2,975 people that will never see the light of day, and many of them died because of what was done by the administration and that was silently approved by most of the political class in Puerto Rico", she claimed.

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The new George Washington University report is much more conservative than a study released by Harvard in May, which estimated the death count to be 4,645. Irma knocked out Puerto Rico's entire power grid.

"This will be a stain on his presidency for as long as he lives", she said.

Months ago, the Rossello administration stopped updating its official death toll at 64 and ordered the independent investigation amid suspicions the dead were substantially undercounted.

"Others expressed reluctance to relate deaths to hurricanes due to concern about the subjectivity of this determination and about liability", the report said. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job", Bush said at the time. "We used very rigorous methodology".

Hurricane Maria caused the largest blackout in U.S. history, according to research consultancy the Rhodium Group.

John Mutter, a professor at Columbia University who researches disaster management, said death certificates are "critical" to determining what is attributable to the hurricane.

Rossello pledged to carry out the recommendations, though there are questions about Puerto Rico's ability to do so.

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