Brit’s agony at waking from coma to find pal died on Turkey teeth whitening trip

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A British man who fell into a coma while on holiday in Turkey says he has been left "absolutely gutted" after his mate died in the same mystery incident.

Richard Molloy, Aaron Callaghan and Declan Carson all travelled abroad for teeth whitening treatment last week, but Mr Molloy, 33, of North Belfast, tragically died on Saturday.

Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson, a dad-of-two, were left in a coma.

And now Mr Carson says he is "back on his feet" while paying tribute to his "absolute gentleman" friend.

Mr Molloy was discovered dead inside an apartment, with Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson, both in their 30s, have regained consciousness having reportedly been discharged from hospital.

In his first social media post since the incident, "gutted" Mr Callaghan posted two photos of the pals during their trip and described the death of Mr Molloy, also known as Richie, as "tragic".

Mr Callaghan wrote on Facebook: "Thank you folks for all the well wishes and messages, too many to get back to individually but it’s means the world.

"Thankfully me and Declan are safe and back up on our feet but thoughts and prayers are with the Molloy family on the tragic passing of big Richie.

"An absolute gentleman, I’m absolutely gutted."

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Turkish police and a local prosecutor's office launched an investigation after the three men, all DJs from north Belfast, fell ill at their rented flat in Didim, a seaside resort on the Aegean coast.

They were partying in the hours before they became unwell, according to Turkish media.

It is said the men had been given "premeds" for their dental treatment and told not to drink alcohol.

There was no suggestion the medication, dental treatment or substances were the cause of Mr Molloy's death or the reason the other men fell unconscious.

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Police were said to be looking at a number of possible causes for the men falling ill and losing consciousness.

According to official records, the alarm was raised at 3.15am on Saturday and the first ambulance arrived on scene eight minutes later, the Sabah newspaper reported.

Mr Molloy died and Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson, a dad-of-two, were hospitalised. At one point both were in a coma in intensive care, according to reports.

A post-mortem was taking place to determine the cause of Mr Molloy's death.

His sister Lydia has travelled to Turkey to collect his body.

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The conditions of Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson improved as they received treatment in hospital, and Turkish reports say they have been discharged from hospital.

Turkish police are understood to have arrested two people during the investigation.

It is said the friends had been in Turkey for about ten days when they became unwell after partying on Friday night, the Bodrum Olay newspaper reported.

Mr Carson is alleged to have told police they spent the night drinking in bars and back at their flat, the Milliyet newspaper reported.

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He allegedly told investigators that Mr Molloy couldn't breathe at one point, and he and Mr Callaghan also collapsed and lost consciousness.

Mr Carson told how he later woke up in hospital, the report added.

Both were on life support and in a life-threatening condition at one point, said Dr Serkan Oncu of Aydin Adnan Menderes University hospital.

Local officials said the men had travelled to western Turkey for teeth whitening treatment.

A source close to the men previously told the Irish Daily Mail: "Apparently they were given premeds for their dental treatment and told not to drink alcohol.

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"No one knows what happened after that. Richie's sister is out there with him now trying to bring him home."

Before they fell ill, Mr Callaghan, a former player with St James' Swifts football club, had posted a photo on Friday of the three friends on a boat in Bodrum.

He wrote: "How's your Friday."

Members of the men's devastated families, including Mr Molloy's sister Lydia and Mr Callaghan's parents Karen and Mark, have flown to Turkey.

Heartbroken friends have remembered Mr Molloy as a "true gentleman".

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The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is helping Mr Molloy's family to repatriate his body.

Colin Bell, from the charity which was set up in memory of his son who died abroad, said they hoped to bring Mr Molloy's body home by the end of the week, as long as no further Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in the meantime.

Mr Bell said he understands that Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson are conscious, responding to treatment and feeling better.

Belfast’s Deputy Mayor and North Belfast SDLP councillor Paul McCusker wrote on Facebook that Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson were no longer in intensive care.

The families were being assisted by the UK Foreign Office and Republic of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs.

Turkey is a popular destination for foreigners seeking cut-price medical and dental treatment.

The Istanbul International Health Tourism Association said up to 700,000 tourists visited for medical procedures in 2017.

The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies predicts that it will attract two million annual health tourists within three years.

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