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Pick your poison: Cocktail buckets in various sizes on sale on Phi Phi

Mystery Clouds Sisters' Deaths on Phi Phi

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
PHUKET: The final report by Thai police into the mysterious deaths of two Canadian sisters on the island of Phi Phi should have arrived at the Canadian embassy in Bangkok yesterday.

''We sent the report late last week,'' said Colonel Jongrak Pimtong, the Deputy Superintendent of Krabi province, which oversees the popular holiday destination.

''The report concludes that we were unable to establish the cause of their deaths.''

The presence of insecticide was detected in the bodies of Audrey and Noemi Belanger during autopsies performed in Bangkok soon after the women were found dead in their room at a Phi Phi resort on June 15.

Colonel Jongrak told Phuketwan in August that pathologists had detected insecticide in Audrey 20, and Noemi, 26.

Speculation followed that the sisters may have drunk DEET - the most common active ingredient in insecticides - in the customary Phi Phi drinking habit of mixing all kinds of ingredients in ''buckets,'' large and small.

However, no further details have been forthcoming. Restrained by privacy laws, Canadian officials have had nothing to add.

Krabi Tourism Association president Ittirit Kinglek at first feared that the police were covering up the circumstances of the sisters' deaths. Phi Phi business folk have a reputation for keeping unsavory incidents out of the media.

However, Khun Ittirit was later persuaded that police were restricting information at the request of Canadian authorities.

''I now understand that the police have been asked by the Canadian Embassy to not explain to the media what happened,'' he said last month.

Khun Ittirit told Phuketwan that he thinks it's wrong to suppress information about the mysterious deaths of tourists in Thailand at the request of a foreign government.

''In my opinion,'' he told Phuketwan ''if something happens in Krabi, police need to be clear and explain in Thailand what happened, not wait for Canadian authorities to let us say something.''

Whatever the rationale for the enduring silence from both Canadian and Thai officials, the lack of information plays into the hands of the people who seek to maintain Phi Phi's appeal by suppressing damaging information.

Requests for more information - on the grounds that the public has a right to know what killed the Belanger sisters - have been politely deflected by Canadian officials, noting the country's privacy laws.

Second autopsies on the sisters are understood to have taken place, before their funerals, in Canada.

Colonel Jongrak told Phuketwan that he visited Phi Phi at the weekend, intent on seeing the bars where 20-something tourists drink concoctions of alcohol and other substances, usually mixed in a plastic ''bucket'' then sucked through a straw.

''It was a wet monsoon season weekend so many of the bars were closed,'' he said.

The deaths of the Belangers are doubly mystifying because of the similarity to an unsolved riddle that cost the lives of American Jill St Onge, 27, and Norwegian Julie Bergheim, 22, in 2009.

Ms St Onge and Ms Bergheim, who did not know each other and never met, fell ill while staying in adjoining rooms at a Phi Phi guesthouse not far from the resort where the Belangers died.

Ms St Onge's companion Ryan Kells, who narrowly escaped death in 2009, told Phuketwan last month: ''Something has to be done this time. If not, we are going to read about it happening again and again.''


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