Eight people have died at a Florida nursing home which was left without power for days after Hurricane Irma, as police announce they are opening a criminal investigation into the deaths.
More than 100 people were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood, on Wednesday morning where residents were suffering from intense heat after the deadly hurricane.
Three residents were confirmed dead at the facility while two others died a short time after being rushed to the nearby Memorial Regional Hospital for treatment, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said at a morning press conference.
Three others were pronounced dead later that day, officials said.
It is not yet clear whether the vulnerable residents died from heat exhaustion or another cause.
The center does appear to have had a back-up generator, according to a Rehabilitation Center employee.
Jean Lindor, who worked in the kitchens, told the Miami Herald that the a generator allowed staff to cook but was not used to provide the facility with AC.
Police are now conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths.
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Eight people are dead at a Florida nursing home after the building's air-conditioning broke down during Hurricane Irma (pictured: a patient is rolled out of the nursing home on a stretcher and taken to Memorial Regional Hospital)
More than 100 people were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood, on Wednesday morning (pictured)
Residents were suffering from intense heat and lack of power after the deadly hurricane wiped out the buildings electricity, and many had to be stretchered to hospital
Scenes outside the South Florida nursing home where eight people have died after the building lost power during Hurricane Irma
Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez told WSN-TV: '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.'
The eight victims have now been named as Bobby Owens, 84, Manuel Mario Medieta, 96, Miguel Antonio Franco, 92, Estella Hendricks, 71, Gail Nova, 71, Carolyn Eatherly, 78, Betty Hibbard, 84 and Albertina Vega, 99.
Sanchez said officers were now checking another 42 nursing homes throughout the city to ensure the elderly residents were OK as temperatures are expected to reach the 90s this week.
Many nursing homes cater to frail, and ill residents, who may rely on oxygen respirators or other medical equipment and medicine. It's unclear whether any of these were affected by the power loss.
Meanwhile, overnight temperatures hit 90F degrees last night.
The alarm was raised at 4am after the first resident was found dead in their bed. There is not yet an official cause of death but many elderly patients had been suffering from respiratory issues.
Fire crews and police were called out to the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills, Hollywood, Florida this morning (pictured is a fire truck outside the center)
Scenes outside a South Florida nursing home where eight people have died after the building's power and AC went down during Hurricane Irma
It is not yet clear whether the vulnerable residents died from heat exhaustion or another cause (Scenes outside the nursing home on Wednesday)
The assembled press outside the entrance to the Rehabilitation Center, which is opposite a hospital
Officials suspect heat may be to blame, but generators can also come with their own health risks.
Three people were found dead inside an Orlando home Tuesday from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning with a portable generator still running inside their home. Another person died in Daytona Beach on Wednesday from carbon monoxide poisoning from an electric generator.
Hollywood Fire Rescue and Police has confirmed that all 115 residents and staff have been evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood Hills on Wednesday.
A City of Hollywood spokesman added that many of the residents were found in critical condition, some with trouble breathing.
Footage from the scene on Wednesday morning showed patients being rolled out of the nursing home on stretchers and taken to Memorial Regional Hospital.
The neighboring Larkin Community Hospital was also being evacuated, Local 10 reports.
Two residents were confirmed dead at the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood, (pictured) while three others died a short time after being rushed to the nearby Memorial Regional Hospital for treatment
Photos of inside the nursing home show a fairly basic set up with shared bedrooms which could have become unbearably hot at the temperatures increased without AC
At the Rehabilitation Center, Airstron employee Dave Long said he'd been calling Florida Power & Light for days to fix a fuse which appeared to have popped out during the hurricane - but to no avail.
'There's nothing we can do,' said a 'frustrated' Long. 'We've been calling and calling. It just doesn't seem to be going anywhere and I can't do anything until we get that fuse popped back in.'
A spokesman for Florida Power & Light (FPL) passed on his condolences to the residents of the Rehabilitation Center that had lost their lives, at a press conference this morning.
'Our deepest sympathies goes out to those who lost their lives,' he said, but said the tragedy 'does point to the need (for facilities) to have a plan in advance.'
He also urged any frail, elderly or vulnerable people who were currently without power, 'please go to a shelter or call 911, now.'
The spokesman added that FPL had met with city officials in March to determine which buildings should be listed as top critical facilities in the case of a hurricane. The Rehabilitation Facility was not among those listed.
Airstron employee Dave Long - who was called out to fix the problem - said he'd been calling Florida Power & Light for days to fix a fuse which appeared to have popped out during the hurricane (pictured is Hurricane Irma in Florida on September 10)
Irma battered Florida over the weekend leaving devastation in its wake (Debris covers parts of A1A as hurricane Irma lands in Delray Beach, Florida on September 10)
At least 18 people from Florida have died after Hurricane Irma swept through the state. Irma also claimed the lives of four in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people were killed in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, around half of Florida's entire population were left without power.
Florida Power & Light say they have restored power to around 60 per cent of its 4.4 million customer base although utility services have warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored across the state.
The Florida Keys were the hardest hit as drinking water and power were cut off, all three of the islands' hospitals closed, and gasoline supplies limited.
About 110,000 people remained in shelters across the state.