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News - Politics

Five dead at Florida nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma

Rescue teams found victims as they arrived to evacuate the facility

Health care workers walk down streets filled with emergency equipment near Memorial Regional Hospital after five people reportedly died and more than 100 were evacuated at The Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills because of intense heat and no power after Hurricane Irma.(Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Five residents at a Florida nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma have died after a loss of air conditioning during the outage, Broward County officials said Wednesday.

Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said another 115 patients were evacuated, including several in critical condition. His office immediately started a criminal investigation, but Sanchez did not indicate specifically what the office was looking for. 

"We're not ruling anything out," he said. 

The victims were found inside the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and the Larkin Community Hospital, which sit in a medical complex surrounded by a larger children's hospital.

Kerting Baldwin of Memorial Healthcare Systems talks to the media on Sept. 13, 2017. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said three of the victims were found dead at the nursing home and two others died at a hospital.

She told reporters that the victims died from the lack of air conditioning after the storm knocked out electrical power for several days.

People inside the facilities started calling 911 shortly after 4 a.m. on Tuesday, prompting emergency crews to rush to the two facilities. 

Raelin Lohse-Storey, a spokeswoman for the city of Hollywood, said emergency crews quickly decided they needed to get everyone out.

"Once we determined that we had multiple deaths at the facilities, and that the facilities are extremely hot, we made the decision to evacuate all of the patients," Lohse-Storey said. 

Crews have begun checking the status of the other 42 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the city. 

Officials said relatives wanting to check on their relatives at the facilities could call (954) 265-1074. 

Contributing: Associated Press  

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