Sarah Carter's father alleges Chiang Mai coverup

ANTONIO BRADLEY AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 10/03/2011
Sarah Katherine Carter
HOLIDAY TRAGEDY: Sarah Carter.

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Thai officials have announced that the deaths of Kiwi Sarah Carter and three others after visits to a Chiang Mai hotel are a coincidence, but her father claims there is a coverup.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is also demanding answers from Thai officials, saying their explanation has been "less than fully convincing".

Chiang Mai Governor Pannada Disakul made the announcement before tests had been completed on Ms Carter and tourist guide Waraporn Yingmahasaranont 47, British journalist Andrew Drummond reported.

Tests on tissue taken from Ms Carter had been inconclusive and samples had been sent for analysis to the United States and Japan.

A fifth person, an American, died in Chiang Mai one month before Ms Carter and in similar circumstances, it was revealed after the announcement.

Mariam Soraya Vorster, 33, of Seattle, who was working as a guide in Chiang Mai, died on January 11, TV3 reported last night.

Ms Carter, 23, died in February, within two weeks of an elderly English couple, George and Eileen Everitt, and Ms Yingmahasaranont. Ms Carter's death was initially blamed on food poisoning.

"We have to admit that these deaths coming one after another are nothing more than coincidence," Mr Disakul said at a press conference on Tuesday.

But Ms Carter's father, Richard, said yesterday that he was certain the deaths were not a coincidence. "That's the sort of language you get with a coverup.

"Hopefully the pressure from the New Zealand Government ... will stir them into something a bit more positive," he said.

"The results can't bring Sarah back. My main concern is that something is done to work out the cause and correct what brought about the illness so that others don't suffer the same fate."

Mr McCully's spokesman said consular officials in Bangkok had spent "quite a bit" of effort to get Ms Carter's test results back.

Mr McCully said yesterday: "It's a very sad case ... the obvious questions need to be asked and answered fully."

Miss Carter's two travelling companions Amanda Eliason, 24, and Emma Langlands, 23, also became seriously ill but have since recovered.

The Chiang Mai Deaths

January 11: Mariam Soraya Vorster

February 3: Waraporn Yingmahasaranont

February 6: Sarah Carter

February 19: George and Eileen Everitt

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- The Dominion Post

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