Strange water is supposedly to blame for the mysterious deaths of American tourists in the Dominican Republic. During an appearance on CNBC, Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen was asked about the role illegal alcohol may have played in the deaths of at least 11 Americans. He brushed off the possibility that suspected poisoning caused the sudden fatalities.
“I think it's frankly part of today’s media cycle. The reality is that when people travel abroad people get sick simply many times by just drinking water that’s different here than what we are used to in the United States," he says at the 6:25 mark in the video above. "There have been seven deaths over the last year and a half and certainly, they will be investigated. We have to wait for the Dominican to come back with specifics on all of those unfortunate passings.”
In an article published Monday, Slate argued that the "string" of fatalities is not a string at all, given the average number of deaths expected to occur in any year of U.S. travel to the Dominican Republic greatly exceeds the dozen or so that comprise this suspected "trend." The causes of the deaths likely won't be confirmed until the toxicology reports come in July.
Over the course of the past year, at least 11 American tourists have passed away while visiting the Dominican Republic. The Dominican government has insisted that the deaths are not connected, but the mounting media coverage and growing concerns have prompted resorts and hotels on the island to look into whether bootleg alcohol is to blame. Forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky told The Cut that the victims' shared symptoms are “consistent with poisoning," and methanol or pesticides may have been used. The former is often used in counterfeit alcohol.
As noted by Vox, "consuming even a small amount of pure methanol can lead to pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs, and respiratory distress."