A town official in a small Quebec community has confirmed the identities of two sisters found dead in a room at a Thai resort yesterday.
Audrey and Noémi Bélanger, aged 20 and 25, were from Pohénégamook in the Lower Saint Lawrence region of Quebec.
A town councillor told CBC News the small community is in shock.
A cousin told The Canadian Press late Saturday that the sisters studied in Quebec City with their elder sister, but worked at the family store in the community of roughly 3,000. The cousin said the women's parents were notified while visiting their surviving daughter in Quebec City.
The tragic news trickled back to the Marché Bonichoix, the family store where the sisters worked, an employee said, but would not comment further.
The bodies of the two women were discovered in their main-floor room in the tourist island of Phi Phi Friday afternoon local time.
There were no signs of violence in the room, according to local police. Investigators are looking into the possibility the women were poisoned.
"It's difficult to get a sense of just what police found when they visited the room, but they had said there were signs that the two women had been sick and they had mysterious rashes on their skin," Alan Morison of the Phuket Wan news website told CBC Montreal.
That information was confirmed by nurses at the hospital where the bodies were taken on Thailand's mainland, he said.
Autopsies will be conducted to determine the official cause of death.
Representatives from the Canadian Embassy in Thailand were expected to visit the island on Saturday. Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs said privacy concerns prevent it from releasing further details or identify the women.
"Canadian consular officials in Bangkok are providing consular assistance to the family and are in contact with local authorities," Claude Rochon, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email statement. "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the Canadian Citizens who passed away in Thailand."
Bodies found by hotel staff
According to Phuketwan.com, a maid knocked on the door of the women's room Thursday but there was no response.
On Friday, a master key was used to enter the room and that's when the bodies were discovered. The women had checked into the hotel on Tuesday.
Anangkana Choisrinal, a nurse at the hospital where the bodies were taken, told the Phuket Wan she had never seen a case like it.
''We have no idea as yet what killed the women," she told the website. ''They had been dead between 12 and 20 hours when they were found."
In 2009, two young tourists, one from the United States and the other from Norway, staying at a nearby guest house also died under mysterious circumstances.
Their deaths remain unsolved, but there was speculation the women had been poisoned.