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Canadian sisters found dead in Thailand

QMI Agency

Two young sisters from Quebec were found dead Friday on a popular tourist island in southern Thailand.

Staff found the bodies of Audrey and Noemi Belanger, aged 20 and 25, in a hotel room at 9 p.m. on Phi Phi Island, according to Thai media.

The sisters were students at Universite Laval in Quebec City. They worked at their father's grocery store in their hometown of Pohenegamook, about 200 km northeast of Quebec City.

Joanie Ouellet, who said she worked with one of the two women, said "the mood is quite sad in the town today."

The sisters' great-aunt, Colette Belanger, told QMI Agency on Saturday that she heard about the deaths on the news.

"I doubted that it was Audrey and Noemi," she said.

Noémi(L)and Audrey (R) Belanger from Pohénégamook, Quebec, were found dead on the island of Phi Phi, Thailand.

QMI Agency has learned that the women's family were en route to Thailand on Saturday.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada said consular officials were aiding the family of the dead Canadian citizens.

The Phuket Gazette reported that authorities were told that "two tourists' bodies were found in the same hotel room at the Phi Phi Palms Residence." It is thought that the sisters were poisoned.

Lt-Col. Rat Somboon of Krabi Provincial Police told the newspaper that "there was a lot of vomit in the room, and both bodies showed similar signs (of trauma)."

"They had skin lesions and it seemed they had bled from the gums. Also, their fingernails and toenails were blue," he added.

The Phuket Wan Tourism News reported that a hospital official said it is unclear how the women died.

The news organization also reported that the Phi Phi Island is notorious for attracting young travellers who drink heavily at the bars that reportedly stay open until dawn.

Local Thai media are likening the case to the deaths of three Western tourists who were thought poisoned within the span of a month on the island in 2009. Police and medical authorities have not been able to determine the cause of the three deaths, reports say.

The Phuket Gazette reported that a 48-year-old Norwegian tourist staying at a villa on Phi Phi Island was admitted to hospital in April 2009 with severe diarrhea and died soon after.

About a month later, the same newspaper said a 26-year-old American couple fell ill and one of them died. Both had been "vomiting for some time before going to the hospital," the paper reported.

Finally, a Norwegian woman who had been staying in the room adjacent to the couple, died in hospital after also falling ill, according to the Gazette.