The State Department says there hasn’t actually been an ‘uptick’ in US citizen deaths in the Dominican Republic

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Mariordo/Wikimedia Commons

The US State Department said that the number of US tourists who have died in the Dominican Republic this year is normal compared to previous years.

While non-natural deaths like homicides, suicides, and accidents are posted on the US State Department’s website, natural deaths – like heart attacks and deaths from pulmonary edemas – are not published.

So far this year at least eight US tourists have died from heart attacks, pulmonary edemas, or other apparent natural causes while staying at all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican. Two other US tourists died in a car crash on the country’s notoriously dangerous roads.

Family members have spoken out about their relatives’ deaths, urging others to get second autopsies, accusing Dominican authorities of ‘lying’ about causes of death, and saying the incidents surrounding the deaths are suspicious.

US tourists who have died while on vacation in the DR

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US tourists who have died while on vacation in the DR
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Yutong Yuan/Business Insider

The deaths have caused concern among people planning trips to the Dominican Republic, and led many to come forward to say they fell ill or were poisoned at resorts while in the country.

The State Department, however, said to INSIDER that the number of deaths isn’t unusual.

“Speaking generally, we have not seen an uptick in the number of US citizen deaths reported to the Department,” a spokesperson for the State Department said.

Dominican Republic’s tourism minister, Francisco Javier Garcia, told CNN last week that all of the deaths are isolated incidents.

Read more: A travel analyst explains the risks of visiting the Dominican Republic, and what to watch out for if you do

“Investigation into them is a top priority for us and for the National Police. We are asking them to deploy all resources to help provide answers as quickly as possible,” he said.

Last year, the US State Department reported that 13 US citizens died of non-natural causes in the Dominican Republic. Four of the deaths were the results of drownings, four were auto accidents, two were homicides, one was suicide, and one was an undisclosed accident.

The Dominican Republic is currently on a Level 2 travel advisory from the US State Department, which means travelers should exercise increased caution while visiting the country.

Millions of people travel to the tourist hotspot for vacations every year – the tourism industry accounted for more than 17% of the Dominican Republic’s economy in 2017, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The State Department’s information page on the Dominican Republic warns tourists that violent crime, including robbery, murder, and sexual assault, is common.

There are a number of things tourists can do to stay safe in the country, including traveling in groups, drinking bottled water, and not taking alcohol from strangers.