August 22, 2019

Thailand tourist deaths – toxin found in hotel

Sarah had her whole life before her. She did not deserve to die at the hands of negligent, profit driven scumbags.

A toxin used in an insecticide spray at a Chiang Mai Hotel may be behind the deaths of six tourists and a tour guide in Thailand in recent months.

A 60 Minutes investigation into the death of New Zealander Sarah Carter has found the Downtown Inn hotel was using a spray with a potentially lethal toxin which causes symptoms similar to those which the tourists died from.

Authorities in Thailand say the chemical compound was thought to be an insecticide for bed bugs.

In February 2011, Sarah Carter died in hospital from a heart inflammation two days after she and two friends became sick while staying at the Downtown Inn.

Seven people have died in similar circumstances after spending time in the Downtown Inn, including a Canadian tourist, an elderly British couple and a Thai tourist guide.

Dr Ron McDowall, a United Nations scientist, told 60 Minutes there was a strong likelihood that Miss Carter’s death was a result of excessive exposure to the substance, which has been banned for indoor use in other countries.

Dr Ron McDowall said the toxin causes symptoms identical to those suffered by the tourists who have died.

One of the three women, Emma Langlands, last night spoke for the first time of the events leading up to their becoming sick.

The three friends had arrived in Chiang Mai in the afternoon, settled at the Downtown Inn and booked a tour for the next day before heading out that evening for dinner.

Speaking about the hotel the group stayed at, Ms Langlands said there was “nothing that really stood out” which might indicate something was wrong with it. “The room seemed really clean, there were no strange smells – we did [however] see a sign that said the hotel was being sprayed with insecticides.”

It is understood the company which sprayed the Downtown Inn is now under investigation. A day before public officials were due to come and inspect the area, the whole of the fifth floor – the floor in which the girls stayed – was stripped.

Hidden camera footage showed cleaners vacuuming, stripping carpets and wiping down surfaces.

A 60 Minutes reporter is shown sneaking into the room in which the girls stayed and taking samples from surfaces in the room.

The samples, which were brought back to New Zealand and tested, showed traces of a poison called pyrophus, used in insecticides and which is banned in some countries.

A New Zealand scientific expert told the programme he believed there may have been a bedbug infestation at the hotel, and coupled with an overuse of insecticide, resulted in guests becoming sick.

Newswarped thinks that a hotel who employs negligent contractors and then tries to cover it up needs their arses kicked big time. Tourists coming to Thailand need to have confidence in the standard of hotels on offer.

Full marks to Sarah’s family and others who would not accept the ‘official’ finding that a toxin in seaweed eaten at a food court was to blame and the fact the people all stayed at the Downtown Inn was just a coincidence.

Well done to 60 Minutes for getting in one step ahead of the authorities before the Hotel operators could cover up the crime.

It doesn’t bring Sarah and the others back, but at least the truth has been uncovered.


  1. B. Peterson says

    Cover up og not ??

    Thank you for this very interesting article.

    As some of you may know Bed bugs is a huge problem for hotels around the world, especially on the beaten backpacker tracks. It is extremely difficult to stay bug free, because the backpackers keep dragging the bugs in, in their bags and clothing. AND if there is something that a hotel suffer under is a posting on the internet that this particular hotel is infested.
    SO many hotels try what they can to protect themselves against thes small animals, with procedures for travelers and pest control. BUT bed bugs from Thailand, dont always respond to the chemicals used in Australia and vice versa. Thats probably why some operators are trying out different brands.
    I seriuosly dont think its a cover up, its more lack of knowlegde or desperation to rescue the property’s image.

    BUT no matter what, we need to bring this into the spotlight – so the experts can advice hotels on the right treatment.

    If any of you outthere has knowlegde or can recommend any names or brands of BB pest control treatments – PLEASE pass the knowlegde on so no more lives are lost.