United States President Donald Trump responded to an impassioned plea for help from the San Juan mayor by calling her remarks “fake news”.

On Friday, Carmen Yulín Cruz tried to draw attention to the crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria struck. “I will do what I never thought I was going to do,” she had said. “I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.”

On Saturday, Trump tweeted, claiming the Democrats had told the mayor to be “nasty” to him, and that her own people were not working well. He had earlier called the people of Puerto Rico those who “want everything to be done for them”.

‘Mayday, we are in trouble’

At least 16 people died in the category 4 hurricane that hit on September 20, thought unofficial numbers could be much more. As rescue efforts flounder in the US territory, Cruz said that Puerto Rico might not have electricity for another six to eight months. Ninety percent of homes were flattened by Hurricane Maria, half the population is without drinking water, and more bad weather is expected.

After Trump’s tweets, Cruz posted on Twitter saying her only goal was “saving lives”.