Emails released Thursday by congressional Democrats show correspondence between first responders that appears to undermine the Trump administration’s public reporting of the human toll from Hurricane Maria last year.
In one email, dated Sept. 29, 2017, a first responder — whose name has been redacted — describes “finding mass graves in mud slide areas,” and requests counseling support for federal first responders in the area. An unnamed Army National Guard general is included in the correspondence.
Only 16 deaths were publicly acknowledged when President Donald Trump arrived at the island days later to survey damage and meet with local officials. That number climbed to 34 hours after he left.
Independent researchers at George Washington University subsequently estimated the casualties at 2,975, a figure accepted by Puerto Rico’s commonwealth government.