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Chief medical inspector counters CBC’s Belanger sisters’ death report

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Chief medical inspector counters CBC’s Belanger sisters’ death report | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The chief medical inspector called in to investigate the mysterious deaths of Canadian sisters Noemi and Audrey Belanger on Phi Phi Island in 2012 has dismissed reports that said the sisters died from poisoning from a specific pesticide.

The news follows a report by Canadian news network CBC quoting Dr Pasakorn Akarasewi as saying, “The most likely explanation is the acute intoxication and it is intoxication from the chemical that belongs to the pesticide group [story here].” CBC proceeded with an in-depth report about a single pesticide, aluminum phosphide, being the possible cause. Aluminum phosphide is used to control bedbugs in some hotels.

Yet Dr Pasakorn, Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Disease Control, told the Phuket Gazette in an exclusive interview that he did not affirm the cause of death and did not believe aluminum phosphide was a factor.

“All I said to the media was that the most likely explanation was acute intoxication from a chemical belonging to the pesticide group. We do not know exactly which one.

“DEET was the only chemical we could find in the two sisters’ bodies, according to the autopsy report,” he said. “But the bodies were sent to Canada a long time ago and we have not been able to further investigate the case.

“I have no idea how aluminum phosphide came up in the CBC report. To my knowledge it came from the Canadian side, as they have been talking about it. According to our report, there was no such chemical found in the women’s bodies,” Dr Pasakorn explained.

The Belanger sisters were found dead in their room at the Phi Phi Palms Residence on June 15, 2012, covered in vomit, with similar signs of trauma on their bodies and blue fingernails and toenails (story here).

Initial autopsies conducted by forensic police in Thailand identified undisclosed amounts of DEET in the women’s systems. Those results were refuted by Quebec coroners, who then conducted secondary autopsies (story here).

“I was not here when the case happened, but I am aware of it,” said Col Phrutthipong Nutchanart, who took up the post of Krabi City Police Superintendent little over a month ago.

“There was the initial theory the women drank a cocktail spiked with DEET, then the theory the women were poisoned by some pesticide in their hotel room, but we do not know how the chemical got into their bodies,” Col Phrutthipong said.

“I have spoken with the case investigators and forensic police, and the general consensus is that the women suffered a severe allergic reaction to some chemical, exposure to which might be tolerated by other people.”

Col Phrutthipong pointed out that the case was closed before his arrival (story here) and said that any further comment about the case must be from the Belanger family or the Canadian Embassy.

“We do not know what exactly killed the sisters. The cause of death in the police report to the embassy remains listed as ‘unknown’,” he stated.

“This has left us with very little to move forward on. We cannot stage a special campaign or crackdown on chemicals used in Krabi when we do not know exactly which chemical killed the sisters or how they came to ingest it,” he added.

Weerapong Dollar, chief of the Disease Control Department at the Krabi Public Health Office, concurred.

“When we were notified about the deaths, we went to the hotel room with police and forensic police to inspect the scene and the bodies, but we found no traces of chemicals at above-normal levels that could have caused death,” said Dr Weerapong.

“As we do not know what killed the Belanger sisters, all we can do is continue with our regular health campaign.”

— Irfarn Jumdukor

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

As Thailand’s beaches reopen, crowds flock back

Jack Burton



As Thailand’s beaches reopen, crowds flock back | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pattaya Unlimited

Yesterday, the Queen’s birthday and a public holiday, saw many of Thailand’s popular beaches heaving with visitors as they reopened for the first time since their closure by the Emergency Decree in March. People across the country took advantage of the easing of inter-provincial travel restrictions that took effect Monday. Chon Buri’s Bang Saen beach in Chon Buri was almost spilling over into the streets.

By the afternoon traffic jams extended more than 2 kilometres on roads leading to the beach, prompting Saen Suk municipality’s mayor to temporarily close them to clear the tailbacks and control visitor numbers. On his Facebook page, he explained the beach was too packed, making it virtually impossible to observe social distancing guidelines. He also posted aerial pictures of the beach showing vehicles blocking the entire stretch of road next to the beach. 3 of the road’s 4 lanes were clogged by parked cars.

Stressing that rules must be enforced, the mayor said that from today vendors and food hawkers can resume their trade along the beach, but the sale of alcohol will still be banned.

• 7 areas on the beach will be free of beach chairs, and where chairs are allowed, there must be plenty of space between them

• visitors are required to wear face masks at all times

• those renting chairs out are required to the body temperature of their customers and provide them with hand sanitiser gel

• non-chair areas are designated so people can enjoy the open spaces on the beach

Bang Saen beach, which attracts a lot of weekenders because it’s the nearest beach to Bangkok, will be closed on Mondays for cleaning. The municipal office says beach chairs may only be used on the beach on weekends.

Under the “new normal” regulations, visitors to all beaches must wear masks at all times while on the beach and leave by 11pm. It’s reported that at the busiest time yesterday, at least 5,000 visitors were at Bang Saen beach, and most had driven there. The mayor says authorities will block traffic on roads leading to it when necessary to control the numbers. The number of beachgoers sparked fears of a possible resurgence of Covid-19 infections.

A member Bang Saen beach’s Bang Saen White Sharks lifeguard team said the crowds left officials and resources overstretched trying to enforce the “new normal”.

• beaches in Hua Hin also churned back to life as seaside vendors and restaurants once again welcomed customers, many of them locals.

• in the eastern province of Trat, ferries were back in business moving tourists between the mainland and islands including the popular Koh Chang.

• Koh Samet in Rayong, just east of Chon Buri, remains closed as it’s located in a national park, although local tourism associations have appealed to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to reopen it.

• Phuket’s beaches also remain closed

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

As Thailand's beaches reopen, crowds flock back | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

With all patients recovered, Phuket closes its Covid-19 field hospital

Jack Burton



With all patients recovered, Phuket closes its Covid-19 field hospital | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Phuket News

So long, farewell. Phuket, which has had the highest number of Covid-19 infections per capita in Thailand, is closing its first “field hospital” after discharging its final patients. The temporary hospital is closing down, hopefully for good, and will be “put on standby,” as the last patients have recovered, the island’s governor announced yesterday.

The building was actually the unfinished new provincial HQ for the local Phuket government. The building’s completion has been stalled for years with uncompleted contracts and delays. But it has served an important purpose in housing the island’s Covid-19 patients and keeping them away from the main hospitals.

“Today is the day that Phuket has zero Covid-19 patients. I would like to thank all officials and Phuket residents for their efforts and cooperation to make our province finally Covid-19-free. Our next job is to rehabilitate the province’s economy, especially the tourism industry, which has been severely affected by the outbreak.”

The governor was joined at the closing ceremony by representatives from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket Office, the Phuket Chamber of Commerce and the Phuket Federation of Industries to hand out 600 survival kits to local people affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Phuket’s first field hospital was established in March with 104 beds in a two-storey building. It was staffed with medical professionals from 5 hospitals throughout the province. Some 123 Covid-19 patients were treated at the hospital and all have fully recovered and been discharged. None has tested positive again.

The second field hospital is also on standby, having released its last patient on May 15.

Since the outbreak started, Phuket has reported 227 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Of these, 224 patients recovered and 3 died.

With all patients recovered, Phuket closes its Covid-19 field hospital | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Road deaths

2 killed after truck slams Phuket power pole – VIDEO

The Thaiger



2 killed after truck slams Phuket power pole – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Rath

2 men are dead in Phuket after a truck slammed into a roadside power pole on the notorious Kata hill road, just out of Chalong yesterday. Police say the two men killed were a Thai and a Burmese national.

The deputy chief of Karon police says the accident occurred at about 4:50pm at the mouth of Soi Suksan 1 on Patak road – a windy section of road as it heads up the hill towards Kata Beach. The power pole fell across the road after being hit by the pick up truck, killing the man inside. He was identified as 31 year old Thanapon Prachit a native of Chaiyaphum province.

Another man, passing by on a motorbike, was seriously injured by the falling power pole. He was admitted to Chalong Hospital where but was pronounced dead. The passport found on him identified him as 28 year old Win Myo Hlaing from Myanmar.

The bodies of the victims were taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital for an autopsy.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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