RIO DE JANEIRO—A US tourist died aboard a cruise liner which docked in the port of Rio Tuesday after Brazilian authorities were told that 79 people aboard had been sickened by a mystery illness.
The woman died aboard the MS Veendam, a luxury vessel owned by the US cruise company Holland America Line which sailed from Valparaiso, Chile and docked here with 1,800 people on board, most of them foreigners, officials said.
Police said they were awaiting a report from forensic doctors about the woman’s death and told AFP they had no word on her identity. But Agencia Brasil said there was no indication her death was related to the health scare.
Rio state’s tourism secretary Ronaldo Azaro was quoted by official media as saying that Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) had been informed that there was a health issue aboard when the vessel left Valparaiso earlier this month and later stopped over in Uruguay.
The official Agencia Brasil quoted him as saying at least 72 passengers and seven crew were affected by an unspecified ailment on the journey from Chile.
Agencia Brasil reported that federal police, who are investigating the case, said they had been told by the Veendam’s doctor that the main theory was that the woman had died of natural causes.
Anvisa officials came aboard when the ship docked in Rio Tuesday and found only two persons still showed symptoms of intestinal discomfort, Azaro said.
He gave assurances that there was no risk for the Rio population. “There is no level of infection which could contaminate other people, here,” he added.
Local dailies meanwhile said that during the journey ship authorities issued a red alert, ordering the closure of the swimming pool and the library and calling on passengers to wash their hands every two hours.