Eight elderly people have been confirmed dead in a U.S. nursing home in Florida after the facility was left without electricity due to Hurricane Irma as temperatures soared to the upper 90s in the area.
The news was confirmed by Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez, according to the Miami Herald. Local authorities reported that the devastating tropical storm broke the fuse that maintained the air-conditioning units at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.
The facility called rescue crews shortly after 7:30 a.m., according to WCVB-ABC, where they saw "a number of people in respiratory distress," the BBC reported.
Raelin Story, the nursing home's public affairs director, stated that no official cause of death had yet to be determined. A criminal investigation of the nursing home is now underway and the other 42 nursing homes operated by the company will undergo precautionary checks.
Florida Light and Power had yet to visit the site, despite being called repeatedly for several days to repair the air-conditioning.
Dave Long, who works at the home said, "There's nothing we can do," adding that despite multiple calls "it just doesn't seem to be going anywhere and I can't do anything until we get that fuse popped back in."
Hollywood's overnight heat index temperature was registered between 85° to 90° Fahrenheit by the National Weather Service, on the heels of a Tuesday afternoon high temperature of 99° with the heat index.
Over 100 people at the nursing home were evacuated by Hollywood police.