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Unexplained Deaths In Chiang Mai, Thailand At The Downtown Inn

Updated on November 16, 2012
The Downtown Inn
The Downtown Inn
Laleena Guesthouse On Phi Phi
Laleena Guesthouse On Phi Phi

In February of 2011, reports surfaced of the mysterious deaths of British tourists Eileen and George Everitt of the United Kingdom. The couple were found deceased in their hotel room at The Downtown Inn, in Chiang Mai Thailand on February 19th. The fact that both the deceased seemingly passed away at the same time, seemed to indicate that death from natural causes was unlikely, regardless of the fact that they were both in their 70s.

When reports began to surface of more deaths that had actually occurred in the same hotel, prior to the deaths of George and Eileen Everitt, it became clear that something more sinister might be to blame. It was later discovered that American tourist Soraya Pandola, 33, died in January of 2011 after using the swimming pool and facilities at The Downtown Inn. Then in the first week of February, 2 more deaths at the same hotel only 1 day apart. Backpacker Sarah Carter, 23 of New Zealand and Thai tour guide Waraporn Yingmahasawanont were staying just across the hall from each other, and were pronounced dead on consecutive days.

Since then the friends and family of Canadian tourist Bill Mah, who died on January 26th, and an unnamed French tourist have come forward with information that the deceased had in fact used the facilities at the same Chiang Mai hotel where the other mysterious deaths had taken place. With the deaths of 7 people all linked to the same hotel, you might assume that Thai authorities would have closed the hotel and assigned a special investigations unit to discover the cause of the deaths. As of March 22, 2011, the hotel remains open and the case appears to be closed.

These circumstances are shockingly similar to the deaths of 2 tourists on Phi Phi Island in 2009. American Jill St Onge, and her fiancé Ryan Kells had both become violently ill after checking into The Laleena Guesthouse on Phi Phi Island. Ryan and Jill were staying in room 4 at the Laleena Guesthouse, and they both became very ill shortly after checking in. Two Norweigen tourists that were staying in room 5, also became ill at the exact same time. Jill St Onge and Julie Michelle Bergheim were both pronounced dead on May 6th, 2009.

Ryan Kells was very critical of the response of Thai authorities following the death of his fiancé. He insisted that the room had smelled of chemicals, and that he felt that he and his fiancé had been poisoned. The friends and family of both victims were openly critical that no cause of death had been determined, and the Norwegian government was so unsatisfied with the official autopsy, they did their own autopsy 6 weeks later back in Norway. Unfortunately they were not able to determine the cause of death, and this mystery was left unsolved.

After reading the reports of the mystery deaths in Phi Phi, there was a public outcry among locals and expats, that knew if nothing was done to solve this case, it would almost certainly happen again. Their worst fears have seemingly come true just less than 2 years later, this time the death count is at 7 and there is every reason to believe it will climb. The hotel in question is still open for business, despite the fact that people are dying.

Andrew Drummond, a prominent freelance journalist is reporting that the owner of The Downtown Inn, is the former Mayor of the city of Chiang Mai. Khun Boonlert Buranupakorn, is also the owner of The Empress Hotel chain that owns several other hotels in Chiang Mai, as well as several shopping centers and a chain of well known restaurants. This has caused much speculation as to the transparency of the investigation. With such a powerful man involved, many people feel that any information linking these deaths to The Downtown Inn will be discarded and covered up.

Drummond reported that the Thailand Department for Disease Control said so far there are no links between the deaths of cases examined of people visiting Chiang Mai in January and February and no link to the Downtown Inn. Chiang Mai Governor Pannada Disakul reportedly said the deaths were coincidental. It would appear that the Thai authorities have already decided that these deaths were all an amazing coincidence and no further investigation will be required.

The sad truth of the matter is that this is likely not the last time we will witness an event like this in Thailand. When nothing was done to solve the mystery deaths on Phi Phi Island, any reasonable person could assume that there was potential for a repeat of this scenario. Less than 2 years later we have seen a staggering 7 deaths in Chiang Mai in less than a 2 month period, and we will likely see more. Until the authorities decide to conduct a proper investigation, and get to the bottom of these type of mysteries they will almost certainly continue to occur.

Timeline Of Mystery Deaths

• Jan. 11 — American Soraya Pandola, 33, dies of swelling of the heart muscles after becoming violently ill, she was not staying at the Downtown Inn but used facilities there. Lab results for the cause of death have not been received. Her husband Tony has demanded the Inn be closed and that he receives the lab reports.

• Jan. 26, Canadian Bill Mah’s death has been listed as the seventh associated to the Chiang Mai mystery when it was discovered he had used the hotel facilities.

• Feb. 4 — Thai tour guide Waraporn Yingmahasawanont dies in her room at the Downtown Inn after suffering apparent food poisoning.

• Feb. 5 — Backpacker Sarah Carter, 23 of New Zealand, dies in hospital after she and two friends became ill in the same hotel. Carter, died of swelling of the heart. Her room was next to the tour guide’s.

• Feb. 28 — George Everett, 78, and Eileen Everett, 74, of England, died simultaneously of heart attacks inside their Downtown Inn hotel room.

A French woman — between 23 and 33 — was identified as being the sixth person to die with similar circumstances however the name and dates are unavailable.

UPDATE! JUNE 16, 2012

Our worst fears came true, as the deaths of two more young tourists have been reported on the Island of Phi Phi. Canadian sources have named the women as Audrey Belanger, 20, and her sister Noemi, 26.



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