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Bahamas calls on US labs to help resolve deaths of 3 tourists

Officials say samples taken from three American tourists who died at a Bahamas resort under mysterious circumstances were sent to a US lab to speed up results and help authorities figure out what happened.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Samples taken from three American tourists who died at a resort in the Bahamas under mysterious circumstances have been sent to a lab in the United States to expedite results and help authorities figure out what happened, officials said Monday.

Bahamas Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said officials also took samples from the rooms where the tourists were staying and from the surrounding property to determine if any contaminants were present.

“We really want to know what caused this,” he said.

He identified the victims as Michael Phillips, 68, and his wife Robbie Phillips, 65, of Tennessee, and Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64, of Florida. Rolle refused to provide their hometowns.

Chiarella’s wife, Donnis, was airlifted to a Florida hospital and remains in serious condition, Rolle said.

Their bodies were found Friday morning at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Exuma, where the couples were staying in two separate villas.

The samples were sent to a lab in Philadelphia, with toxicology study results expected in about a week, Rolle said. He noted that the Bahamas Department of Environmental Health and police officers are still at the resort.

When asked what he thinks might have caused the tourists’ deaths, Rolle replied, “I’m not going to speculate.”

He noted that the four tourists went to a doctor the day before their bodies were found and complained of feeling unwell. He said they went at different times and ate different things.

Meanwhile, Sandals Resorts said it would not comment beyond its initial statement, which said it supported the investigation and the families of those involved.

“Out of respect for our customers’ privacy, we cannot release any further information at this time,” the company said.

The deaths come seven years after a Delaware family fell seriously ill at a resort in the US Virgin Islands. U.S. authorities determined that methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide banned for indoor residential use in 1984, was to blame and had been used repeatedly at this resort.


Associated Press reporter Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey, contributed.

ABC News

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