PALM BEACH – Over the past year, at least 10 Americans have died from sudden and extreme illnesses – many deemed by officials to be “suspicious” in nature – while visiting the Dominican Republic, according to the U.S. State Department in a recent statement.
The deaths, most of which involved tourists becoming gravely ill before passing away soon afterward, have received extensive media coverage and placed a considerable black eye on the Dominican Republic’s tourism trade, currently a major staple of the Caribbean country’s economy.
However, according to a State Department spokesman, the number of deaths of U.S. citizens visiting the Dominican Republic remains within established averages; currently, 2.7 million Americans visit the Dominican Republic annually, with the vast majority returning home without any injury or illness, officials say.
Most recently, at least three Americans died under suspicious circumstances within a five-day period of time at adjacent resorts in the Dominican Republic; Miranda Schaupp-Werner of Pennsylvania, 41, was found dead at the Bahia Principe Bouganville hotel on May 25, and Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, were both discovered dead at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana Resort on May 30.
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According to reports, some of the victims have been alleged to have consumed beverages from various luxury hotels they were staying at before suddenly displaying illnesses that eventually resulted in their deaths. No link has yet been established among those who have perished, and FBI officials are currently awaiting the results of toxicology reports on the victims before proceeding with an investigation.
In response, Francisco Javier Garcia, the minister of tourism in the Dominican Republic, told reporters “The Dominican Republic is a safe country,” and that ‘There is not an avalanche of deaths‘.