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Chiang Mai deaths still a mystery

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Thai experts are unconvinced by an independent investigation which suggested that the mysterious tourist deaths in Chiang Mai came from from exposure to a bedbug spray.

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Toxic death theory 'carries little weight'

Confusion still shrouds mystery of dead tourists

Cheewin Sattha and Apinya Wipatayotin

You can see our two earlier stories on the New Zealand 60 minutes investigation here:

Sarah Carter, right, died and her two friends, Emma Langlands (centre) and Amanda Eliason became gravely ill during their stay at Chiang Mai's Downtown Inn hotel.

Thai experts are unconvinced by an independent investigation which suggested that a 23-year-old New Zealand tourist died from excessive exposure to a lethal toxin used to kill bedbugs at a Chiang Mai hotel.

A toxic substances expert from the Public Health Ministry and the Department of Agriculture said they did not think chlorpyrifos - which is used in insecticide sprays – was the cause of the death of Sarah Carter.

Carter died on Feb 6, and her friends Emma Langlands and Amanda Eliason became gravely ill while they were on holiday in the Downtown Inn Hotel in Chiang Mai.

Five people died from unexplained causes in Chiang Mai over a 16-day period after New Year. Four stayed at the Downtown Inn Hotel.

The mystery over Carter's death resurfaced recently after an investigation commissioned by the New Zealand TV show 60 minutes found traces of the potentially lethal toxin in the Downtown Inn where the tourists stayed.

UN scientist Ron McDowall said there was a strong likelihood Carter died from excessive exposure to the substance.

The other four who died after staying at the hotel experienced identical symptoms to those suffered by Carter.

Chiang Mai Public Health Office deputy chief Surasing Visaruthrat told the Bangkok Post that although the authorities had not yet ruled out all possible causes of the deaths, the bedbug insecticide assumption "carries little weight".

Thorough checks conducted by the doctors when the three tourists were admitted to the hospital found no traces of insecticides, he said.

An autopsy performed by Maharaj Hospital also found no toxic substance residue. The doctors suspected Carter died from food poisoning, according to a Chiang Mai police report.

"We can't jump to a conclusion that toxin exposure was the cause of the death because the substance was allegedly found in the hotel room alone, not in the victim's body," Dr Surasing said.

Dr Surasing yesterday chaired a meeting of the investigation team. The meeting, attended by doctors and experts from various agencies, ended with no conclusion on the deaths.

Dr Surasing said the team would meet again after receiving test results of samples collected from the victims' bodies. The samples were sent for testing at laboratories in the United States and Japan.

Meanwhile, an official from the Department of Agriculture said Thailand did not ban chlorpyrifos, which is also used as an ingredient in insecticides for use on farms.

"It is hard to believe that a bedbug spray containing chlorpyrifos would be able to kill people unless a large amount of the chemical got into the body," said the official, who asked not to be named.

The official said chlorpyrifos is easily dissipated in the air, which means it causes no ill effects to the environment.

toxic – poisonous and harmful to people, animals or the environment  เป็นพิษ
theory – one or more ideas that explain how or why something happens สมมติฐาน
weight – importance, influence or strength น้ำหนัก,, ความสำคัญ
confusion – a feeling that you do not understand something or cannot decide what to do ความสับสน
shroud – to cover or surround something completely so that it cannot be seen or understood ปิดบัง, ทำให้คลุมเครือ
mystery – a quality that makes someone or something difficult to explain, understand, or get information about, especially when it also makes them seem interesting or exciting สิ่งที่ไม่สามารถอธิบายได้, ความแปลกประหลาด
unconvinced – thinking that something may not be true or right ไม่เชื่อ
independent – done or given by somebody who is not involved in a situation and so is able to judge it fairly อิสระ, ไม่ขึ้นใคร
investigation – the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง
suggest – to show that something is possibly true ชวนคิด
excessive – much greater than is usual; too much of something   มากเกินปริมาณที่พอดี
exposure –  the state of being put into a situation in which something harmful or dangerous might affect you การสัมผัส, การเปิดรับ
lethal – very dangerous and able to kill you เป็นอันตรายถึงชีวิต
toxin – a poisonous substance, especially one which is produced by bacteria and which causes disease พิษ
substance – a particular type of liquid, solid, or gas สาร
insecticide – a chemical used for killing insects ยาฆ่าแมลง, ยากำจัดแมลง
grave – very serious; very dangerous วิกฤติ, ร้ายแรง
resurface – to reappear; to become important again ปรากฎออกมาใหม่ commission – to officially ask for a piece of work to be done มอบหมายให้ทำ
traces – very small amounts of a substance ร่องรอย
potentially – possibly เป็นไปได้
likelihood – the chance that something will happen/ has happened ความเป็นไปได้
lethal – very dangerous and able
identical – exactly the same, or very similar เหมือนกัน, แบบเดียวกัน
symptom – a sign that someone has an illness อาการ
suffer – to experience something very unpleasant or painful ประสบ
deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
rule out – to stop considering something as a possibility ประกาศว่าเป็นสิ่งที่เป็นไปไม่ได้
assumption – something that you consider likely to be true even though you have no proof ข้อสันนิษฐาน
conduct – to do something in an organised way; to carry out — ลงมือทำ, ดำเนิน, ปฏิบัติ
admit – to put someone into hospital for medical treatment เปิดรับ
autopsy – a medical examination of a dead person’s body to find out why they died การชันสูตรศพ
residue – a small amount of something that remains at the end of a process ส่วนที่เหลือ,  เศษตกค้าง
suspect – to believe that something is true, especially something bad  สงสัย
conclusion – something that you decide is true after consider all the evidence and thinking about it carefully การสรุป,บทสรุป
allegedly – claimed to have done something wrong, but not yet proven ที่กล่าวหา
victim – someone who has been affected by a bad situation, such as an illness or an accident เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
chair – to be the person in charge of a meeting, committee, or company ดำรงตำแหน่งประธาน, ทำหน้าที่ในฐานะประธาน
sample – a small amount of a substance that is used for scientific or medical tests ตัวอย่างทดลอง
laboratory – a room or building used for scientific research, experiments, testing, etc  ห้องปฏิบัติการ, ห้องทดลอง
meanwhile – at the same time ในเวลาเดียวกัน
ban – to officially say that someone is not allowed to do something   ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
ingredient – one of the substances that are combined to make something ส่วนผสม
dissipate – to cause something to gradually stop or disappear  ค่อยๆ น้อยลง
ill effects – bad effects
environment – the place in which people live and work, including all the physical conditions that affect them สภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม


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