Chinese tourists in Nepal died of gas poisoning: Autopsy

KATHMANDU - Two Chinese tourists found dead in their hotel room in Nepal last week died of gas poisoning caused by a malfunctioning heater, a forensic expert said Monday.

The men, aged 62 and 55, were found dead on Friday in their hotel room in the popular tourist destination of Nagarkot, 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Kathmandu.

Harihar Osti, a forensic expert who conducted autopsies on the pair, told AFP "our findings show that the two Chinese men died of carbon monoxide poisoning".

"The gas which emanated from the heater in the hotel room poisoned the two," said Osti from the state-run Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

Most gas heaters produce little carbon monoxide, but a malfunctioning burner can generate toxic amounts of the gas, which can spread quickly in unventilated spaces and kill people within minutes, experts say.

"Once it makes one drowsy. The victim, instead of running away, stays there and dies shortly after," Osti said.

A local police official close to the case told AFP the hotel rooms were poorly ventilated, which could have contributed to the deaths.

Officials say the two men, part of a larger tour group, went to bed late on Thursday after an afternoon of sightseeing.

Police broke into their room after the pair failed to appear for breakfast.

More than 500,000 tourists visit Nepal every year and tourism is one of the major contributors to the economy of the impoverished Himalayan nation.