Hurricane Maria death toll jumps to 34 in Puerto Rico

(ABC News) — The death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria has risen to 34, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced Tuesday evening.

Prior to Tuesday, the number of storm-related deaths on the island stood at 16.

Much of the 3 million American citizens who live on the island are still without water, electricity and cell service after Maria struck as a powerful Category 4 storm on Sept. 20, devastating the island and its structures.

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In the aftermath of the storm, President Donald Trump clashed with Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, writing on Twitter that she displayed “such poor leadership” because she was “not able to get” workers to help in relief efforts.

Cruz and Trump met Tuesday during Trump’s visit to the storm-ravaged island.

“It’s all about saving lives, it’s not about politics,” Cruz said to Trump as they shook hands following a briefing earlier today.

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As Trump attended briefings on relief efforts, he noted that Puerto Rico’s officials “can be proud” of the relatively low death toll on the island compared to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Rossello responded to Trump’s comments on Katrina, saying he believes the president understands the level of devastation after he took part in a flyover on the island.

The island is still grappling with the damage caused by the storm. Only 47 percent of the island’s water customers have access to potable water, and 95 percent of Puerto Rico is still without power, according to the office of the governor.

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