Dominican tourism minister says autopsy results will reveal causes of deaths, insists island is safe

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SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Beset by a rash of American tourists dying at luxury hotels and resorts on his island — and recognizing prospective vacationers may think twice about journeying to the Caribbean getaway — the Dominican Republic’s minister of tourism passionately defended his island’s reputation, stressed its safety and hit back at the critics he accuses of mounting “a negative campaign.”

Francisco Javier Garcia sat down exclusively with Fox News on Wednesday to discuss the local government’s response to the deaths — some of which grieving family members have labeled “mysterious” and how Dominican officials plan to quell the growing questions about tourists’ safety.“I have been working in the capacity of minister for eleven years and this is the first time I have had to investigate the figures of visitors to the island,” he said. “What began as a news story has transformed and transformed and transformed into a negative campaign [against the island]. Not because it was mounted but it evolved.”

Francisco Javier Garcia, the minister of tourism in the Dominican Republic, insists that the Caribbean island is safe for travelers amid a rash of deaths of U.S. tourists. (Sipa via AP Images)
Francisco Javier Garcia, the minister of tourism in the Dominican Republic, insists that the Caribbean island is safe for travelers amid a rash of deaths of U.S. tourists.

Nine Americans have died this year on the Caribbean island in various hotels but from oddly similar circumstances – including one couple who died together inside their hotel room. So far, neither the health nor tourism ministries have publicly revealed the final autopsy reports showing why the men and women succumbed while on vacation.

Garcia told Fox News he’s seen the final autopsy reports for all nine victims and said there is nothing in the reports to suggest the deaths were mysterious or nefarious. He didn’t give any other details but said the autopsies are set to be made public during a Friday press conference.

A preliminary report shown to Fox News about the death of New Jersey resident Jonathan Allen, who died in the northern tourist town of Sosua earlier this month, stated he was a “ticking time bomb.”

The report said: “His organs were practically destroyed, with a biological age of more than 80 years old. He was extremely obese, weighing more than 400 pounds.”

Dominican Republic public health officials label reports of mysterious US tourist deaths as ‘fake news’
Dominican Republic public health officials label reports of mysterious US tourist deaths as ‘fake news’

Following a string of mysterious deaths of nine US tourists in the Dominican Republic, public health officials of the Caribbean nation are characterizing press reports as ‘fake news’ aimed at undermining the island nation’s tourism industry. Despite many victims falling fate to similar symptoms, Dominican Republic officials maintain recent tourist deaths are coincidental and due to natural causes.

The report said Allen had pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, a fatty liver and cardiac problems. Toxicology results were still pending.

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