Two Canadian residents under the age of 27 were found dead in a hotel room in Thailand. Blowfish poisoning is suspected in the deaths of Audrey and Noemi Belanger, and officials are investigating whether foul play should be considered in the case.
"Police determined they were dead for about 24 hours prior to being found on Friday, and only found a lot of vomit in the room. There were neither signs of fighting, nor of robbery, but we found many kinds of over-the-counter drugs, including ibuprofen, which can cause serious effects on the stomach," police Lt. Col. Jongrack Pimthong told the Associated Press.
The Belanger sisters were college students from Quebec who had traveled to the Phi Phi Palm Residence Hotel in Thailand for a vacation. The hotel is known for being upscale and was part of the area featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio film "The Beach."
According to witnesses, the sisters dined at a restaurant on Tuesday night before returning to their hotel room. A maid continually knocked on the door in order to gain access to clean the room, but no one answered. On Friday, "The maid wanted to check if they wanted to stay at the hotel for another night but didn't hear any response, so the hotel used a spare key to access the room," Jongrack explained.
That's when the sisters' bodies were discovered.
"Forensic officials found vomit in the room, blood on their lips and gums, and their fingernails and toenails were blue," Lt. Col. Rat Somboon told the media. These are all signs of poisoning, he explained, and tests are being conducted to determine the exact cause of death.
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For now, the bodies will remain in Bangkok until officials are done with their tests, though the family has been notified of the loss.
"I doubted that it was Audrey and Noemi," their great-aunt Colette Belanger told the press. She learned about their deaths on the news. The rest of the family will remain in Quebec until the girls' bodies arrive.
"The mood is quite sad in the town today," observed Joanie Oullet, a former colleague of one of the sisters.