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8 killed at sweltering Florida nursing home

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) – Eight patients at a sweltering nursing home died after Hurricane Irma knocked out the air conditioning, raising fears Wednesday about the safety of Florida’s 4 million senior citizens amid power outages that could last for days.

Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were heat-related, and added: “The building has been sealed off and we are conducting a criminal investigation.”

Gov. Rick Scott called on Florida emergency workers to immediately check on all nursing homes to make sure patients are safe, and he vowed to punish anyone found culpable in the deaths.

“This situation is unfathomable,” he said.

The home said in a statement that the hurricane had knocked out a transformer that powered the AC.

The five women and three men ranged in age from 70 to 99.

Exactly how the deaths happened was under investigation, with Sanchez saying authorities have not ruled anything out, including carbon monoxide poisoning from generators. He also said investigators will look into how many windows were open.

The deaths came as people trying to put their lives back together in hurricane-stricken Florida and beyond confronted a multitude of new hazards in the storm’s aftermath, including tree-clearing accidents and lethal generator fumes.

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