Kathmandu, January 23
Police have not launched a full-fledged investigation into the death of eight Indian tourists in Daman despite request from family members of the deceased. Police said they were awaiting the final autopsy report.
Eight tourists from Kerala had died of suffocation on Tuesday after using an LPG heater in their hotel room to keep warm.
The deceased were part of a 15-member group staying at Everest Panorama Resort in Daman. All the bodies were flown to Kerala in two flights today.
Family members and friends of the deceased had lodged a complaint at the Metropolitan Police Circle, Maharajgunj, on Tuesday requesting full-fledged investigation into the incident. But nothing has been done so far.
Police said they could not investigate until they had a copy of the final autopsy report. “So far, we don’t have evidence to round up the hotel staff or other people because the cause of death appears to be an accident,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Sushil Singh Rathaur, of Makawanpur District Police Office. “But we will thoroughly investigate if the autopsy report reveals something new.”
Former additional inspector general of police Bigyan Raj Sharma, however, said police could do much more. “They should investigate whether the hotel followed basic safety measures and charge hotel staffers with negligence if they had failed to do so,” Sharma said.
The Department of Forensic Science, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, in Maharajgunj, which conducted the autopsy, has said ‘the most likely cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning’. It also provided death certificates to family members of the deceased stating the same.
“I don’t think the final autopsy report will reveal anything new. So police investigation should now focus on finding if someone intentionally encouraged the tourists to use the gas heater in the hotel room,” said DoFS Chief Dr Tulsi Kandel.
This is not the first time foreign tourists have died at Everest Panorama Resort.
Around four years ago, a foreigner had died ‘due to cold’ in the hotel, said a hotel source.
The Department of Tourism too has formed a five-member committee to probe whether the tourists died due to lapses on the part of the hotel management.
The DoT will probe whether the hotel had fulfilled all the criteria to be named a resort and whether it was following basic safety measures.
“A preliminary study shows the resort lacks essential amenities,” DoT Director General Danduraj Ghimire said.
A resort, according to DoT regulation, must have air conditioners, smoke detectors and proper ventilation in all the rooms. A resort should also have a team of well-trained staff.
DoT had granted Everest Panorama Resort permission to operate on 15 March 1992. Based on this, the resort was registered at the Department of Industry on September 16 the same year.
“This is the only record of the resort with the department,” said a DoT official. Multiple sources said the resort was managed by Sudesh Gautam Chhetri but he said he was just a well-wisher of the resort and didn’t want to comment on the issue.
A version of this article appears in print on January 24, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.