Dominican Republic label US tourist deaths ‘FAKE NEWS’ as FBI investigates ninth casualty

Following several mysterious deaths that all came after the victim ingested alcohol, experts urged the FBI to look into the possibility of tampered drink on the island’s hotels. After two more deaths the FBI advanced their investigation – leaving Dominican Republic officials fuming over any accusations that the island’s safety was not up to scratch. They blamed the US for being part of a conspiracy to derail the country’s tourism industry.

Ministry of Public Health official Carlos Suero said: “It’s all a hysteria against the Dominican Republic, to hurt our tourism, this is a very competitive industry and we get millions of tourists, we are a popular destination.

“People are taking aim at us.”

It comes as the FBI advanced their investigation analysing alcohol samples from a minibar at a hotel where three of the victims were found dead.

Joseph Allen was the latest to die after being found in his hotel room last week, following eight other similar deaths on the island over the past year.

Despite Mr Allen being given a clean bill of health before he made the trip, Mr Suero continued to insist that the deaths were natural and nothing on the island was to blame.

He added: “The testing results are all negative, everything – the food, the alcohol, the air – is normal, there is no alteration of the alcohol.

“With all the tourists we get every year, we make sure we comply with international standards for everything.

“People die all over the world. Unfortunately, very unfortunately for us, these tourists have died here.

“We had about 14 deaths last year here of US tourists, and no one said a word.

“Now everyone is making a big deal of these.

“I went to the United States and got an infection in my throat, but luckily I was returning to the Dominican Republic soon after.

“If I’d died, would I have been right to blame the United States? No.”

Meanwhile, Dominican Public Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas labelled the reports as a setup aimed at “hurting tourism”.

He said that Leyla Cox, a 53-year-old New Yorker who died earlier this month, had a history of “several heart attacks” – despite family claiming she had never had one before.

Officials fear the developing crisis could significantly hurt tourism, which makes up 17 percent of the Dominican Republic’s economy.

The Dominican Republic is a hugely popular destination for both US and UK citizens, with over two million Americans and 177,000 Britons making the trip in 2017.

While US officials have urged caution and patience to potential visitors, neither Washington or the UK have issued official warnings.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs website states that bottled water and beverages are considered safe, and only warns against crime.

Meanwhile, the British government site makes no mention of tainted alcohol.

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