Lawmaker calls for probe into 'unusual' Amazon cruise deaths

Lawmaker calls for probe into 'unusual' Amazon cruise deaths
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Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) is calling for a probe into a “highly unusual” incident in which two residents of his state died while vacationing aboard a cruise ship on the Amazon River in Peru.

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In a letter to Brian A. Nichols, the U.S. ambassador to Peru, Ashford asked for “a thorough, fair and impartial investigation” after Larry and Christy Hammer apparently died of smoke inhalation following an electrical fire on board the ship in the middle of the night.

“The family has many unanswered questions,” the lawmaker wrote. “Those questions are heightened by reports that no one else on board suffered any injuries.”

Ashford wants to know how the fire started and why the couple was not awakened and removed from their cabin in time.

He added that his office will be contacting FBI International Operations to assist local authorities.

This isn’t the first time cruise ship deaths and crimes have captured the attention of Congress.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are pushing a bill that would strengthen crime reporting and video surveillance requirements on cruise ships.

The pair of lawmakers is hoping to build on a 2010 law — inspired by one of Matsui’s constituents who said she was raped on a cruise — that required cruise ships to tighten security measures and report alleged crimes.