Canadian sisters found dead in Thai hotel room
Published Saturday, June 16, 2012 1:11PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:11AM EDT
Two sisters from Quebec found dead in a Thai hotel room have been identified.
A cousin of the family says the sisters are Audrey Belanger, 20, and Noemi Belanger, 25, both of Pohenegamook, Que.
The cousin, who wished not to be indentified, said the pair studied in Quebec City and worked at a family grocery store in Pohenegamook, a small town of 3,000. He said word of the sisters' death has rocked the close-knit community.
“They loved life and lived well,” family member Adrien Belanger told CTV Montreal. “I’m just lost for words.”
CTV Montreal’s Camille Ross reported that the women had been dead for between 12 and 20 hours when their bodies were discovered. Investigators speculate poison is to blame, Ross said.
Local police said there were no signs of violence at the scene. However, the bodies had clear signs of trauma, including unusual rashes, bleeding from the gums and black and blue nails.
“They were clearly suffering the affects it appears of some kind of poison, some kind of toxic inhalation perhaps. Or something they ate or drank,” Alan Morison, editor of the Phuket Wan Tourism News, told CTV Montreal.
The Phuket Gazette, a local Thai paper, reported the women's bodies were discovered in their hotel room Friday. The Gazette said the sisters checked into the Phi Phi Palms hotel Tuesday and went out that night, but they stayed in their room all day Wednesday. By Friday hotel staff became concerned and went into their room to check on them, the Gazette reported.
Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the deaths in statement issued to CTV News on Saturday.
"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the Canadian Citizens who passed away in Thailand," said Claude Rochon, a spokesperson from the ministry.
Canadian consular officials in Thailand are providing assistance to the families of the victims and are working with local Thai authorities on their investigation, said Rochon.
In an interview earlier Saturday with CTV News Channel, Morison also said the case resembled a case in 2009 when a Norwegian tourist and an American tourist fell ill and died. Their causes of death have yet to be determined, said Morison.
Thailandis one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. In 2011, more than 19 million people visited the country. An estimated 100,000 Canadians visit Thailand each year.
The Phi Phi Islands, located of the south-western coast, are an especially popular tourist spot. Known for their white sand beaches and clear water, the islands have been granted national park status by the Thai government.
With files from The Canadian Press