Phi Phi tourist deaths remain a mystery, autopsies inconclusive

The Royal Thai Police Institute of Forensic Medicine in Bangkok has concluded its examination of tissue samples from two young women who died mysteriously on Koh Phi Phi early last month.

The evidence is inconclusive.

Deputy chief of Krabi Public Health Office Dr Buncha Kahkhong said that the autopsies failed to turn up anything that could have caused the deaths of American Jill St Onge and Norwegian Julie Bergheim.

There were no toxic chemicals found in the blood, bodily fluids and other tissues of the women, Dr Buncha said.

The two young women died within hours of each other in Phi Phi Island Hospital after staying in adjacent rooms in the island’s Laleena Guesthouse.

For our previous reports on the deaths, click here and here and here.

Dr Buncha said the tests ruled out food poisoning, contradicting a statement made by Krabi Provincial Police Commander Pasin Nokasul on May 25.

“I can say it definitely wasn’t food poisoning,” Dr Buncha said. “From the autopsy and blood tests and the questioning of witnesses it’s been established that the women ate different food prior to their deaths.”

Dr Buncha added that if this were a case of food poisoning, more people would likely have fallen ill too.

The investigation would now need to focus on environmental factors, Dr Buncha said. However, examination of both the air conditioning unit and the water supply at Laleena guesthouse had not revealed anything out of the ordinary, he added.

“The investigation will also focus on the personal histories of the women,” Dr Buncha said. “Although the autopsies have been inconclusive, we have all the information recorded now and it will be useful going forward.”

“This is looking like some freak accident. With cases like this, sometimes you never find the cause. But we’re very worried about it because foreign tourists died. Krabi Public Health Office will co-operate with any teams from the US and Norway who want to come and investigate. We’ll share all our information with them,” Dr Buncha said.

“It’s in our interests to co-operate, because if we find the cause of the deaths we can make sure it never happens again,” he added.

— Khunakorn Terdkiatkhachorn & Dan Waites

Phuket News

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