ONE of the Dominican Republic resorts at the centre of a tourist mystery death probe is to remove liquor dispensers from its minibars.
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana is making the changes to its guest rooms after two tourists died after staying there.
The move also comes as the FBI has begun testing samples from minibars across the resort island after at least 11 holidaymakers died suddenly.
The Hard Rock resort decided to remove the hard booze dispensers and hopes to "provide more tranquillity for guests," General Manager Erica Lopez told CNN.
However the resort insists the decision was made independently and not as a result of the tragedies.
The decision follows a series of tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic, some of which may have involved liquor.
Two of the deaths occurred at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
They were celebrating an anniversary, and she said her husband returned from a diving trip and wasn't feeling well.
By the next morning he was sweating and unable to get up before he died, it's been reported.
Local authorities say the cause of death was a heart attack and pulmonary edema.
Californian Robert Wallace, 67, died in hospital days after becoming ill at the hotel April 12, relatives revealed.
Tommy Tickenhoff, his son-in-law, said he became sick after drinking scotch from a minibar.
Last week, a travel lawyer warned holidaymakers’ lives are being put at risk by a lack warning from travel operators about lethal bootleg booze in the Dominican Republic.
So far multiple US tourists have recently died on the Caribbean island prompting an FBI investigation
Is alcohol behind the deaths and illness in the Dominican Republic?
Several American tourists have died after falling ill at resorts in the Dominican Republic.
The deaths have an eerie similarity and suspicion has now turned to alcohol served in the minibars.
Most of the deaths as the victims were healthy adults and some of them drank from their hotel minibar before falling ill.
Some of the symptoms they had included nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, which one expert claims is similar with poisoning from pesticides of methanol.
Methanol is a type of alcohol that is not safe for human consumption.
Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensic science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, said: “Adulterated alcohol is usually methanol added to alcohol or just plain methanol, which is very, very toxic.
“It looks to me, from what I’ve heard and read, is that something was added to the drinks or bottles in those little refrigerators.
But lawyer Nick Harris told The Sun Online, British holidaymakers are not being warned about the risks of alcohol in the Dominican Republic.
Around 150,000 Brits holiday on the island each year and Mr Harris says most stay in all inclusive resorts.
He said that means hotels are under pressure to cut costs and source alcohol from the cheapest suppliers who “may use unethical practices”.
Mr Harris called on travel industry body ABTA and travel companies serving the Dominican Republic to warn customers about drinking alcohol in hotels.
“The travel trade and ABTA, by failing to provide adequate warnings to people who are there and about to go, are taking a huge risk with their customers’ lives,” said Mr Harris, head of travel law at Simpson Millar solicitors.
Timeline of deaths
- September 2016: Barbara Diane Maser-Mitchell, 69, from Pennsylvania dies after drinking cocktails at the Punta Cana resort
- April 2018: Army veteran Chris Palmer, 41, from Kansas, found dead at the Villa Cocotal Palma resort in Punta Cana
- June 2018: Yvette Monique Sport, 51, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, dies after drinking from the minibar at at a Bahia Principe hotel in Punta Cana
- July 2018: David Harrison dies while on holiday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana
- April 2019: John Corcoran, brother of US TV star Barbara, dies from heart attack
- April 14: Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California dies in hospital four days after falling ill
- May 25: Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Pennsylvannia, dies within hours of consuming a drink from a resort minibar at Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana
- May 30: Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland, are found dead in their hotel rooms
- June 10: Leyla Cox, 53, of Staten Island, New York, is found dead in her hotel room
- June 13: Joseph Allen, 55, from New Jersey, dies in room at the Terra Linda hotel in Sosua
- June 24: Reports claim New Yorker Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, Long Island has died on the island.
The latest deaths to be revealed are those of Chris Palmer, 41, from Kansas, and 69-year-old Barbara Diane Maser-Mitchell, from Pennsylvania.
Their families have come forward after hearing about other deaths and are also unhappy about the explanations given to them about how their loved ones passed away.
Army veteran Mr Palmer died on April 18, 2018 while retired nurse Ms Maser-Mitchell died on September 17, 2016, both at resorts in the Dominican Republic.
Ministry of Public Health spokesman Carlos Suero insisted that the Caribbean country shouldn’t be blamed for the series of tourist deaths.
He told Fox News the deaths of Cynthia Ann Day and fiancé Nathaniel Holmes, whose bodies were discovered on May 30 in their hotel room, were a “special medical case”.
Suero claimed that Mr Holmes died, then Ms Day followed, “probably from the shock of seeing the person beside her dead”.
Both their autopsies indicated they died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, according to Dominican authorities. Day also suffered cerebral edema.
The couple’s family, however, said they plan to have second autopsies performed in the US.
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