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Dominican minister of health says recent tourist deaths not related

Dominican minister of health on tourist deaths
Dominican minister of health says tourist deaths not related 01:56

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — Another American died last week while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Vittorio Caruso, 56, from Glen Cove, New York is the eighth American to die there this year.

The Dominican Republic's minister of health, Dr. Rafael Sanchez Cardenas, said medical reports show the recent American tourist deaths are not related.

CBS News was able to look at the records, but the minister insists that the autopsies performed on at least eight Americans who died this year show they had at least one pre-existing condition, ranging from morbid obesity to hypertension. At least five people who died appeared to have similar symptoms.

"What do we have here? Tourists who arrive with pre-existing conditions and die in this country as they do in all countries," Cardenas told CBS News through a translator.

The FBI is currently conducting toxicology tests on three cases: Miranda Schaup-Werner and a couple from Maryland, Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day, all of whom died at the Bahia Principe resort chain.

Some families are skeptical of the reports. But Cardenas said tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic — both natural and accidental — are actually down this year from previous years.

The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo says at this point they have no proof that any of the deaths are related. Meanwhile, the Hard Rock Resort in Punta Cana, where one American died this year, said they are removing liquor dispensaries from rooms, not due to the death there, but to provide "tranquility to guests."

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