US President Donald Trump blames Democrats for increased Hurricane Maria death toll

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Photo credit: Reuters

As Hurricane Florence moves closer to impact on the east coast of the United States, President Donald Trump has blamed the Democrats for increasing the death toll of last year's Hurricane Maria to make him "look as bad as possible".

The official death toll of Hurricane Maria was pinned at 64 last year, but a study out last month found that the toll should have been far higher with 2,975 deaths caused by the hurricane.

Mr Trump disputes that, instead claiming his political opponents increased the number to make him look bad.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," Mr Trump tweeted.

"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 when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.

"If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"

The study that found the death toll was closer to 3,000 than the original number was conducted by researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, and commissioned by the Puerto Rico government.