Eight Florida nursing home residents die in aftermath of Hurricane Irma

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) A criminal investigation has been launched into the deaths of eight patients at a Florida nursing home in Irma's aftermath.

Hollywood, Fla., police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were heat-related.

He said the building has been sealed off for the criminal investigation but didn't give further details.

A total of 115 patients were evacuated from the nursing home, which lost power in the storm and had no air conditioning.

Sanchez did not answer questions regarding whether a generator was running inside the facility.

Jean Lindor, a kitchen worker, said through a Haitian Creole translator that the air conditioner had not been working since the storm and it had been hot inside.

Paulburn Bogle, a member of the housekeeping staff, said the place had been hot but manageable the past few days.

The staff used fans, put cold towels and ice on the patients and gave them cold drinks.

An initial news release from the city of Hollywood said that three patients were found dead in the facility early Wednesday, while others were taken to the hospital and pronounced dead there.

A late morning news release said a total of six died, and by afternoon the death toll stood at eight.

Three of the victims were found dead at the center.

The other five died at or on the way to the hospital, police said.

The victims range in age from 71 to 99.

The 152-bed Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills provides short-term rehabilitative services and long-term care, according to its website.