A Northern Irish man has died and two of his friends were left critically ill after a dental treatment trip to Turkey, it is understood.
The trio, who were described by their MP as “three fit and healthy young lads”, were found in the Turkish city of Marmaris on Saturday.
The dead man was named as Richard Molloy, 33. His two friends, Declan Carson and Aaron Callaghan, were in comas but their condition has now improved.
The men were in the country to undergo a teeth whitening procedure, sources close to them told the Guardian. There were unconfirmed reports that they had taken medication linked to the treatment before being found unconscious in an apartment rented for their trip.
There is no suggestion that the medication was the cause of the death or the fact that the two other men fell unconscious. All three men are from the Ardoyne district of north Belfast. Two were travelling on Irish passports while the other held a British passport.
Turkey has a large medical and dental tourism industry – from teeth whitening to organ transplants and heart surgery – and in 2017 up to 700,000 people visited the country for medical procedures and operations, according to the Istanbul International Health Tourism Association. The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies said that by 2023 it hoped to attract 2 million health tourists to the country.
It is understood that at least one of the men’s families are travelling via Liverpool airport to be with their relative, while arrangements are being made to bring Molloy’s body home.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Turkey and we are in contact with the Turkish authorities.” A spokesperson for the Irish government said: “We are aware of the case and are providing consular assistance.”
North Belfast Sinn Fein MP John Finucane described the tragedy as “absolutely heartbreaking” and said it had affected “three fit and healthy young lads”. He added: “It is just a tragedy now that there is a family going to have to make plans to bring their son home to bury him.”
The SDLP deputy mayor of Belfast, Paul McCusker, described the news as “worrying and devastating”. North Belfast Sinn Fein councillor JJ Magee said the Ardoyne community was “in a state of shock”.
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