8 at South Florida nursing home die amid post-Irma blackout

By Ed Adamczyk and Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Sept. 13, 2017 at 5:30 PM
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Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Eight people died Wednesday at a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home that was left without power and air conditioning after Hurricane Irma, county health officials said.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said four deaths occurred at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills near Fort Lauderdale and three others died at a hospital. It's unclear where the eighth person died. Several others were hospitalized in critical condition.

It wasn't initially clear what caused the deaths, but Sharief said the residents were found in medical distress just after 4 a.m. Wednesday. The center had been without air conditioning since Irma arrived over the weekend.

Hollywood Fire Rescue and police said 115 patients at the nursing home were evacuated safely.

The incident prompted police to check on the 42 other nursing homes in Hollywood, which is located on Florida's Atlantic coast less than 20 miles north of Miami.

"Right now the building has been sealed off. We're conducting a criminal investigation inside. We believe at this time they may be related to the loss of power in the storm. We're conducting a criminal investigation, not ruling anything out at this time," police Chief Tom Sanchez said.

The nursing home had a generator but it doesn't provide power to the facility's air conditioning. The facility had no electrical power after Hurricane Irma struck the state on Sunday, officials said.

Kitchen employee Jean Lindor said the nursing home's generator was sufficient to supply power for cooking, but the facility had no air conditioning after the storm struck.

Later Wednesday, officials in North Miami Beach evacuated 84 patients at Krystal Bay Nursing & Rehabilitation Center after one of the generators there failed.

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