Police in Florida have opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of eight elderly people whose nursing home was left without power after it was hit by Hurricane Irma.

Three residents were found dead at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Centre and another five died later en route to or in hospital with authorities saying the deaths may be heat-related after the air conditioning at the home stopped working.

Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said: "It may be related to a loss of power in the storm", the BBC reported.

The Florida Health Care Association called the deaths a "profound tragedy within the larger tragedy of Hurricane Irma" while the state governor, Rick Scott said that the "situation was unfathomable".

Officers and emergency workers were checking dozens of other assisted living facilities in the city with Hollywood Fire Rescue finding several patients "in varying degree of medical distress and immediately began treatment" when they arrived at the Hollywood Hills facility.

Hurricane Irma has left 10 million people without power in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, after it destroyed parts of the Caribbean, where around 40 people died, although there is no definite toll as yet.

British overseas territories

Meanwhile, there has been criticism of rules set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) preventing Britain from using its £13bn aid budget to help its overseas territories hit by the hurricane because they are deemed too wealthy.

The Government has so far committed to spend £57m on disaster relief for the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

Conservative MP James Duddridge, who was a Foreign Office minister with responsibility for the Caribbean and British Overseas Territories, said: "It is absolutely essential we change these rules. It is ludicrous that we spend £13bn of aid but we cannot use any of that money to help our overseas territories.

"The rules were put in place to avoid 'trade for aid' deals with wealthier nations but they are outdated and should be replaced," the Telegraph reported.

On his visit to Anguilla, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said: "There are things we are going to have to do in the long term to make this island more economically self-sufficient and even more resilient, and we will certainly be thinking about that."

Hurricane Irma
A destroyed marina is pictured in an aerial photo in the Keys in Marathon, Florida, on 13 September. Reuters