Five residents of a nursing home in Florida have died after Hurricane Irma knocked out power and the property was left without air conditioning.
Reports said that 120 others residents from the The Rehabilitation Centre at Hollywood Hills have been evacuated by officials. Police said they had opened a criminal investigation.
Local media said the deaths occurred after Irma left up to seven million people across the state without power.
Reports said that residents were obliged to remain in rooms without air conditioning. On Tuesday, the lowest temperature in Hollywood, located close to Fort Lauderdale, was 79f (26C) degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Barbara Sharief, the mayor of Broward County, said at a Division of Emergency Management press conference on Wednesday that three of the deaths occurred at the nursing and two after the residents were transferred to a nearby hospital. The nursing home remains without power due to Hurricane Irma.
“We’re conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths that occurred here,” Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said.
Geane Mitchell, a nurse at the centre told the WSVN news channel that she was due to begin work at 7am, having been off for the last few days. However, when she showed up to work, paramedics were barring the doors and telling her she could not enter.
Television footage showed rescue crews arriving at the facility shortly after 7.30am on Wednesday and patients sitting outside in wheelchairs. Others were taken away on stretchers.