A highly toxic pesticide used to control bedbugs in some holiday hotels in Asia may have caused the mysterious deaths of two Quebec sisters travelling in Thailand in 2012 as well as several other tourists, including a Norwegian in 2009, according to new evidence from a joint investigation by CBC’s the fifth estate and Radio-Canada’s Enquete.
In 2009 Norwegian Julie Bergheim and American Jill St. Onge were staying in adjacent rooms at a guest house, and they experienced similar symptoms including vomiting, dizziness and blue fingernails and toenails. Both were dead within 24 hours.
Four years after her daughter’s death, Bergheim’s mother, Ina Thoresen, received a report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Authorities there had consulted with leading experts from around the world about what happened to her daughter. Though they could not state the exact cause of Bergheim’s death, they concluded that the most likely cause was poisoning from the phosphine gas released by the pesticide.
The Norwegian report also states that Canadian medical examiners found traces of the gas from aluminum phosphide in the bodies of the Bélanger sisters, who died in similar unexplained circumstances in their hotel room on Phi Phi Island.
Toxicologist Joel Mayer said that the symptoms experienced by the Bélanger sisters, Bergheim and St. Onge are typical of someone exposed to aluminum phosphide.
Read full article: CBC News