Police in Thailand probe holiday deaths of two sisters from Quebec | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Police in Thailand probe holiday deaths of two sisters from Quebec

New shophouses built after the 2004 tsunami on Phi Phi Island, are shown on Oct. 26, 2005. Police in Thailand are investigating the cause of death of two Canadian sisters found dead in their hotel room. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Sakchai Lalit

BANGKOK - A maid found two sisters from Quebec dead inside their hotel room on a popular resort island in southern Thailand, police confirmed Sunday, saying the women did not appear to have been murdered and their belongings had not been taken.

Police were working to determine the cause of death of Noemi Belanger, 26, and her sister Audrey Belanger, 20, whose bodies were found Friday at the Phi Phi Palm Residence Hotel on Phi Phi Island, said police Lt. Col. Jongrak Pimthong.

“Police determined they were dead for about 24 hours prior to that and only found a lot of vomit in the room,” he said. The vomit, along with traces of blood on the women’s face, could be signs of a toxic reaction, police said.

“There was neither signs of fighting, nor robbery, but we found many kinds of over-the-counter drugs, including ibuprofen, which can cause serious effects on the stomach,” he told The Associated Press by phone, after a team of investigators combed through the hotel room on Sunday.

Jongrak acknowledged that police could not conclude the cause of death at this point, adding that the most important evidence would be an analysis of the contents of the victims’ stomachs. He said officials from the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok also visited the hotel on Sunday..

The bodies would be sent to the Central Forensic Institute in Bangkok for further examination, rather than a regional hospital as originally planned, he said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman John Babcock confirmed that two Canadian citizens had died in Thailand, but did not provide further details. He said Canadian consular officials in Bangkok were providing assistance to the family and were in contact with local authorities.

A family member said Saturday that the two sisters were from Pohenegamook in eastern Quebec, near the border with Maine.

Tourists’ deaths are not uncommon in Thailand, which saw about 19 million foreigners visit last year. The causes range from road accidents to foul play and drug overdoses.

The police officer said the hotel, where the women checked in on Tuesday, was located in an upscale area of the island, which is known for partying and as the location where the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed.

Thai media earlier quoted another officer, police Lt. Siwa Saneha, as saying the two women went out to socialize on the night of their arrival. He said a hotel maid came to clean their room on Wednesday and Thursday, but did not enter because she believed they were inside.

On Friday, “the maid wanted to check if they wanted to stay at the hotel for another night but didn’t hear any response, so the hotel used a spare key to access the room,” said Jongrak.

Jongrak recalled a similar incident on Phi Phi Island in May 2009 when two women from the United States and Norway died after suddenly falling ill at a guesthouse, but refused to comment if the two cases shared the same cause of death.

In that case, the victims suffered severe vomiting and stomach pains before being rushed to hospital. Doctors determined the proximate cause of death as dehydration and shock, but it was not known what caused their sudden illness. Two other people with the same symptoms survived.

Another spate of mysterious tourist deaths occurred last year in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, involving several visitors from different countries staying at the same hotel in January and February.

The cause of death was not established, though some evidence suggested the use of the chemical spray chlorpyrifos, used to kill bedbugs, may have been responsible.

News from © The Associated Press, 2012
The Associated Press

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