The Dominican Republic’s economy relies in part on drawing visitors to its beach resorts, and the country became engulfed in a crisis this summer when the families of multiple American tourists said their loved ones had died under suspicious circumstances. Several had sipped alcohol before their deaths, leading to one theory that tainted drinks were to blame.

The revelation Friday seemed to lend some support to what the Dominican authorities, despite a flood of negative news coverage, had argued: that the deaths, while tragic, were not occurring at an usual rate. Tourists die on vacation every year, and the State Department has maintained that there has not been an uptick in reported deaths.

FBI investigators did not give their own assessment of the cause of the deaths. They assisted the Dominican Republic National Police by conducting toxicology tests for three cases, including what to many seemed the most suspicious deaths: a couple from Maryland, Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day, who died overnight in the same hotel room in La Romana.

The FBI ruled out methanol poisoning from alcohol for the deaths, the State Department spokesperson said.

The Dominican authorities had earlier found no evidence of foul play or violence and said the cause of the deaths was respiratory failure brought on by fluid in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema.

Steven Bullock, a lawyer for the couple’s family, said in response to the FBI results that his clients’ deaths still warranted further review.

“You had a couple that died of the same ailment at the same time, and they want to say that it’s natural causes,” Bullock said with a scoff. “I think there’s something for us to continue to look into.”

A relative of Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, whose death in La Romana the FBI also assisted with investigating, referred questions to a lawyer who did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

More than 2.7 million Americans visit the Dominican Republic each year.

This article originally appeared in

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