Toxic chemical linked to Thai hotel deaths

by Emily DUNBAR on August 17, 2011

An investigation into five mysterious deaths of foreign tourists, as well as a Thai tour guide, has suggested a link to harmful toxic chemical exposure, according to the Thai government.

A Thai woman and a woman from New Zealand were “probably” exposed to toxic chemicals, pesticides or gases at their hotel in Chiang Mai, it says.

The deaths of UK couple Mr George and Mrs Eileen Everitt were probably related due to the fact they happened in the same hotel.

The death of an American woman in another hotel is also linked to toxic exposure. All of the deaths, including those of the Everitts, who hailed from Lincolnshire, also occurred in Chiang Mai in January and February. Additionally, several other tourists became ill.

A five-month-long investigation by the authorities in Thailand has been done with assistance from the World Health Organization. Following it was a report from the Department of Disease Control that was published on Tuesday and said that the exact toxic agents can’t yet be identified.

Contrary to this however, an investigative report done by a TV station in New Zealand reportedly found traces of toxic insecticides - particularly chlorpyrifos - that are used to kill bedbugs. The substance was used in the room the New Zealand tourist stayed in.

A French woman also died in January in the same city, Chiang Mai, and is said to have started developing fever and other symptoms before she arrived in the city. Because of this, her case probably isn’t related, the report suggests.

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting about 14 million visitors every year. The Department of Disease Control listed measures it said would be taken to prevent more illness, including monitoring pesticide and chemical use in hotels.

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