United States President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected the government’s assessment that nearly 3,000 people died after a deadly hurricane hit Puerto Rico last year. He accused the Democrats of inflating the numbers to dent his image when he was “successfully raising billions of dollars to help rebuild” the island.

“When I left the island, after the storm had hit, they have anywhere from six to 18 deaths,” said Trump in a series of tweets. “As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3,000.”

The President also accused the Democrats of adding to the list people who had died of natural causes, such as old age.

Trump’s comments come in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which is shortly expected to make landfall along the East Coast.

Last month, Puerto Rico raised the toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to nearly 3,000 after a study ordered by the government of the American territory. The study found that 2,975 deaths could be attributed directly or indirectly to the hurricane between September 2017 and February 2018.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said that he had no reason to dispute the higher toll, reported CNN. “Casualties don’t make a person look bad, so I have no reason to dispute these numbers,” said Ryan, who toured Puerto Rico in the storm’s aftermath.

Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan, described Trump’s comments as “delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality”. “This is not about politics, this was always about saving lives,” she said in a tweet.

Hurricane Maria was the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean island in nearly 90 years. Coming soon after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it was third major hurricane to hit the region within a month. More than 80% of the island’s population were left without electricity and a third lost access to reliable drinking water at home for weeks.