San Juan mayor calls hurricane disaster ‘a people-are-dying’ story

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) – The mayor of Puerto Rico’s hurricane-battered capital spoke on Friday of thirsty children drinking from creeks. A woman with diabetes said a lack of refrigeration had spoiled her insulin. An insurance adjuster said roads have virtually vanished on parts of the island.

In enumerable ways large and small, many of the 3.4 million inhabitants of Puerto Rico struggled through a 10th day with little or no access to basic necessities – from electricity and clean, running water to communications, food and medicine.

Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, gave voice to rising anger on the U.S. island territory as she delivered a sharp retort on Friday to comments from a top Trump administration official who said the federal relief effort was a “a good news story.”

“Damn it, this is not a good news story,” Cruz told CNN. “This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life-or-death story.”

Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, head of the parent department for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said on Thursday she was satisfied with the disaster response so far.

“I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane,” Duke said.

Paying a visit to Puerto Rico on Friday for an aerial tour of the island with Governor Ricardo Rossello, Duke moderated her message, telling reporters she was proud of the recovery work but adding that she and President Donald Trump would not be satisfied until the territory was fully functional.

Maria, the most powerful storm to strike Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years, has killed at least 16 people on the island, according to the official death toll. More than 30 deaths have been attributed to the storm across the Caribbean.

Rossello has called the widespread heavy damage to Puerto Rico’s homes, roads and infrastructure unprecedented,…

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