Thai authorities link toxic chemicals to foreigners’ deaths

August 17th, 2011 - 1:17 am ICT by BNO News  

BANGKOK, THAILAND (BNO NEWS) — The mysterious deaths of four foreigners and a tour guide in northern Thailand has been attributed to poisoning from an unknown toxic chemical or pesticide, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control on Tuesday released a report explaining that three women - from New Zealand, the United States, and Thailand - had likely died due to exposure to pesticides, the Bangkok Post reported.

However, authorities said they were unable to determine the exact chemical involved in the deaths, but it listed rodenticide, which is used for pest control, as one of them.

The first recorded incident occurred in January. An American woman, aged 33, died on January 11 while her 29-year-old friend from Canada fell ill but recovered. They were staying at an unnamed hotel in northern Thailand.

Later, on February 6, a 23-year-old woman from New Zealand, identified as Sarah Carter, died at the Downtown Inn, which is located in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. The incident gathered international media attention as her two friends, Emma Langlands and Amanda Eliason, also fell ill but were able to recover.

Only three days earlier, a 47-year-old Thai woman also died at the same hotel. And on February 19, an elderly couple from England, aged 78 and 74, were found dead at the same hotel.

After several months of investigations, Thai authorities said the precise causes for the deaths and illnesses could not be identified, but New Zealand’s Foreign Ministry said the development was “significant.” Officials said a complete laboratory analysis was not carried out because they lacked adequate samples, which were not taken at the time of the victims’ deaths.

Meanwhile, Thai authorities have announced that measures would be taken to reduce the risk of toxic chemical exposure to future visitors.

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