Donald Trump has denied that almost 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, claiming that the figure contained in a study on the death toll was made up by Democrats seeking to undermine him.
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump tweeted, referring to a recent study that significantly expanded the U.S. government's initial assessment that 64 people died when Hurricane Maria battered the island last September.
"As time went by it did not go up by much", Trump wrote.
The Puerto Rico report found that an estimated 2,975 deaths could be attributed directly or indirectly to Maria from the time it struck in September 2017 to mid-February of this year.
During a news conference on Capitol Hill later Thursday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, avoided directly criticizing Trump but said he had no reason to dispute the study's findings. I don't know. We will never know how many, how many we lost.
She says Trump's presidency is "the theater of the absurd every day".
The study concluded the initial death toll of 64 only included those killed directly by hurricanes Maria and Irma - either by drowning, flying debris or building collapse.
2:15 p.m. update: Strengthening Florence causing rip currents, swells
If you're looking to track the storm's path and stay updated as it approaches the coast, we've rounded up a few resources below. In this September 28, 2017 photo, destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico.
A FEMA administrator said the bottles, pictured on pallet after pallet on a Puerto Rican runway and covered in blue plastic, were deemed surplus. The one thing for sure, the Red Sox helped, [so did] the Cubs, the Pirates, the Houston Astros, there's a lot of people in the States that are still helping us.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello said in a statement this week that Maria was "the worst natural disaster in our modern history". Trump argued without evidence that the number was wrong and falsely called it a plot by Democrats to make him "look as bad as possible". While Cora acknowledged the government helped Puerto Rico, he questioned whether it did enough.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a vocal Trump critic, slammed the President's tweet on Thursday, calling them "delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality".
Trump reignited the controversy around the USA government's management of the disaster when he said Tuesday it was an "incredible, unsung success".
The president raised eyebrows Tuesday when he touted the response efforts in a meeting to go over preparations for the potentially devastating Hurricane Florence inching toward the Carolinas. Some Puerto Ricans are still without power.
Cora said Trump's words were "disrespectful" to his home. "Before, during, and after the two massive hurricanes, the President directed the entire Administration to provide unprecedented support to Puerto Rico".
A Harvard University study in May said at least 4,645 died. "I said it and I'll say it again".
Even a few of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans have spoken out against him.