Sarah Carter, 23, died, and her Kiwi friends Emma Langlands and Amanda Eliason became gravely ill while on holiday in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in February.
While the Thai authorities admit that Sarah Carter was exposed to chemicals similar to those found in pesticides before she died, they say her precise cause of death cannot be confirmed.
A spokesman for New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully said
“This is a significant development for Thai authorities to now recognise there is a linkage between the death of Sarah Carter and others.
“It is also significant to point to some form of toxic material. The Thai authorities have said its unlikely to have been bacterial or viral.”
A report into the death of Sarah Carter and five other tourists was released by the Thai Public Health Ministry this afternoon.
“The three New Zealand women had severe metabolic acidosis (abnormal acid level in circulation) and two of them suffered myocardial injury (injury to the heart muscle),” the report said.
“The women grouped in this event stayed at Hotel “C”. The Thai tour guide was in a room adjacent to that of the three New Zealand women. The investigation found that it is very likely the cause of the illnesses of these four women is the same given the timing of the onset of their illness and the proximity of their rooms. The cause is unlikely to be bacterial or viral.
However, the Ministry said despite the best efforts of the Thai authorities in undertaking an “exhaustive investigation” the specific agents that caused the deaths and illnesses in these events could not be identified.
Perhaps that has somehting to do with the lack of speed in investigating the deaths and the way the hotel owners tried to cover up the use of pesticides for killing bed bugs before the authorities could test the rooms.
Well done to the Thai authorities for having the courage to release the report despite its possible negative consequences for their tourism industry.