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Officials say three hospitals in Providence have started diverting ambulances from their emergency rooms because they were overcome with patients.

Rhode Island Hospital first notified the state Department of Health it was going on diversion around 5 a.m. Wednesday. The Miriam Hospital followed around 6:40 a.m., and Roger Williams Medical Center sent the same notification around 11 a.m.

State regulations prevent more than two hospitals in the Northern Hospital Group from diverting ambulances at the same time. Officials say the three hospitals were required to reopen their emergency departments.

Officials blame the increase in patients on a flu outbreak and accidents attributed to the deep freeze.

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