The tourism minister of the Dominican Republic downplayed Friday the growing number of U.S. tourist deaths reported in the country as “not unusual.”
Fernando Javier Garcia, tourism minister of the Dominican Republic, said that the death of eight U.S. tourists by reportedly “natural causes” at popular resorts are not mysterious and are “statistically normal,” The Associated Press reported.
“There is no mystery whatsoever regarding any of these deaths,” Garcia told the New York Times. “There is nothing to hide.”
Eight U.S. tourists have died under mysterious circumstances in Dominican Republic resorts over the past year. Five were reported to have died from heart attacks, and three others from respiratory issues related to pulmonary edema. (RELATED: Officials Looking Into Tainted Booze As Possible Source For Tourism Deaths: Report)
Garcia confirmed that five of eight autopsies have been completed, and three are taking longer because of toxicological analysis being done with assistance from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation that it’s “assisting the Dominican authorities with their investigation.”
Authorities are investigating tainted liquor as a possible source for the deaths, the New York Post reported, because people have said they fell ill after consuming liquor from their hotel mini-bar. Several deaths occurred in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana and Bahia Principe resorts.
So far the most recently reported deaths being investigated include:
- Robert Bell Wallace, 67, died April 14
- Miranda Schaup-Warner, 41, found dead May 25
- Edward Holmes, 63, found dead May 30
- Cynthia Day, 49, died May 30
- Leyla Cox, 53, died June 10
Garcia told reporters that 3.2 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic in 2018, and the number of deaths is not statistically remarkable.
Garcia acknowledged that resorts have stepped up security routines and are taking precautions around food and beverage preparation.
“We want the truth to prevail,” he added.
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