NAPLES, FL – SEPTEMBER 12: Destroyed power lines hang above a road two days after Hurricane Irma swept through the area on September 12, 2017 in Naples, Florida. Hurricane Irma made another landfall near Naples yesterday after inundating the Florida Keys. Electricity was out in much of the region with extensive flooding. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
Six residents of a Florida nursing home which has been without power since Hurricane Irma have died and more than 100 have been evacuated, officials said Wednesday.
“It’s a sad event,” said Tomas Sanchez, the police chief in Hollywood, the city north of Miami where the retirement facility is located.
“We believe at this time they may be related to the loss of power in the storm,” Sanchez told a news conference.
Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a statement saying he was “absolutely heartbroken” to learn of the deaths of the elderly retirees.
“I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” Scott said in a statement.
“Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable,” he said.
The governor said he has ordered a probe by state authorities.
“If they find that anyone wasn’t acting in the best interests of their patients, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
Sanchez, the police chief, said a criminal investigation had been launched.
Dr. Randy Katz, medical director of the emergency department at Memorial Regional Hospital, said the hospital began receiving patients early on Wednesday.
“(We) quickly identified some issues inside the facility with fire rescue and immediately evacuated the building,” Katz said.
A total of around 115 residents were moved from the retirement home, according to officials.
“There have been six confirmed fatalities related to his incident,” Katz said at a news conference.
He said most of the patients admitted to the hospital have been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration and heat-related issues.
The deaths would take the death toll in Florida from the hurricane, which made landfall in the Florida Keys on Saturday night, to at least 18.
The storm left millions without power across Florida.