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Quebec coroner to release report on deaths of sisters in Thailand

03/02/2015 05:00 EST | Updated 05/01/2015 05:59 EDT
A Quebec coroner will present her report into the deaths of sisters Audrey Bélanger and Noémi Bélanger of Pohénégamook, Que. who died under mysterious circumstances in Thailand in 2012.

The report will be presented at a news conference 10:30 a.m. ET Monday at the Rivière-du-Loup High School, about 2.5 hours from Quebec City.

A joint investigation by Radio-Canada's Enquête and CBC's Fifth Estate concluded a highly toxic pesticide used to control bedbugs in some holiday hotels in Asia may have caused the Bélanger sisters' deaths.

The sisters' father, Carl Bélanger, has seen the report but says he will only comment after it has been made public.

Audrey and Noémi Bélanger set off on a trip through Thailand in 2012.

Days after they arrived at the popular tourist destination of Phi Phi Island, a maid found the sisters dead in their hotel room.

Both were covered in vomit, with their fingernails and toenails tinged blue.

Not the first 

The CBC/Radio-Canada investigation learned that the Bélanger sisters are not the only travellers whose deaths may be linked to this pesticide.

In May of 2009, two other tourists staying on Phi Phi Island also died mysteriously.

Norwegian Julie Bergheim and American Jill St. Onge were staying in adjacent rooms at the Laleena 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.

Although 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.

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