Puerto Rico Doubles Hurricane Maria Death Toll to 34

Image: TOPSHOT-WEATHER-HURRICANE-CARIBBEAN-PUERTORICO
People collect belongings after hurricane-force winds destroyed homes in Toa Baja, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, last month.RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP - Getty Images

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By Alex Johnson

The official number of people killed in Puerto Rico during and after Hurricane Maria has more than doubled, to 34, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump, who visited the island and praised relief efforts, repeated the number that authorities had used for almost two weeks, saying at a news conference in San Juan, the capital: "What is your death count as of this moment? 17? 16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands."

He then compared the "16 people" to the "thousands" who he said died after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. Official totals put the death toll from Katrina at more than 1,800.

Shortly after Trump departed, Rosselló updated the number of dead to 34 and said he believed Maria caused $90 billion in damage.