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A Norwegian pair occupied room 5 at Phi Phi's Laleena Guesthouse

Phi Phi Deaths Riddle: Norway Chases Answers

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
OFFICERS in Norway are trying to solve the mysterious deaths of two young women tourists on the holiday island of Phi Phi that have baffled Thai police.

The body of American Jill St Onge, 27, was cremated in Thailand soon after an autopsy in Bangkok. Forensic research on blood and tissue samples in the US and Thailand has since failed to find a cause of death.

After an autopsy in Thailand, the body of Julie Bergheim, 22, was transported back to Norway in June. Now a new series of examinations is to be conducted in Norway in an attempt to solve the riddle.

Both women, who occupied adjoining rooms at Laleena Guesthouse, died within hours of each other at the Phi Phi hospital on May 2 and May 3 from a mysterious malady.

Many theories have been put forward about what could have possibly killed the two young tourists and made their travelling companions ill.

But forensic scientists have so far drawn a blank.

Like Phuketwan reporter Chutima Sidasathian, Norwegian reporter Stig Martin Solberg travelled to Phi Phi after the deaths to cover the mystery.

Today he reports in nettavisen.no that Norwegian forensic police are determined to find the cause of the deaths.

''Norwegian police and the forensic institute in Oslo have not given up hope,'' he reports.

The new inquiries are being led by Sjaker Haaheim, of police-district Sondre Buskerud. This is the Norwegian county where Miss Bergheim lived.

''After the body of Miss Bergheim arrived in Norway in early June, the Rett Medical Institute in Oslo provided a full autopsy,'' he said.

Now, with the cooperation of Thai authorities and the Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok, a fresh investigation is being undertaken.

''We have received all relevant documents from the local police as well as the results of analysis by the forensic institute in Bangkok,'' he said.

''Now we aim to help the Bergheim family members to get as many answers about the cause of death as possible."

A preliminary report from the new autopsy has been done and investigators are waiting for the full report.

''When it comes is uncertain. It requires complicated analysis, so no date can be specified for completion.''

He warns against being too optimistic.

''It is by no means certain that we can solve the mystery, but we will do what we can.''

Consul Birgit Brantenberg at the Norwegian embassy in Bangkok told Solberg: ''The investigation under the auspices of the provincial police in Krabi is not completed.''

Laboratory tests on samples of chemicals and air-conditioning parts, taken from Laleena three weeks after the deaths, are continuing in Thailand.

It's business as usual back at the Laleena on Phi Phi, where guests now stay in the same rooms where Miss Berheim and Miss St Onge fell ill.

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