Puerto Rico death toll doubles to 34

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Oct. 3, 2017 at 8:50 PM
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Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced Tuesday that the death toll in the U.S. territory from Hurricane Maria more than doubled to 34.

Prior to his announcement in a news conference in the afternoon, the death toll stood at 16.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to the storm-ravaged island, President Donald Trump praised officials in Puerto Rico for the fact that only 16 people died.

"Sixteen versus in the thousands," he said, comparing Maria's impact to that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "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."

As Trump visited the island Tuesday, residents remain in desperate need of assistance. Almost all private homes and businesses are still without power and nearly half the island lacked access to water and sewage treatment. Sixty-five percent of grocery stores are currently in operation and less than one-fifth of Puerto Rico's cellular towers are working. Many rural, mountainous towns remain cut off from neighboring communities due to debris.

Rosselló said that though aid is getting to the island, distribution of the supplies was a major issue.

"We have delivered food and water, and it hasn't gotten to some people," he said. "They didn't listen, couldn't hear, the information didn't get to them."

"I recognize there are still people that might not have gotten those resources."

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