The Body of Elisa Lam was found Tuesday inside the water tank of an historic downtown Los Angeles hotel, according to CBS News. Health officials immediately issued a do-not-drink order, fearing fecal contamination of Cecil Hotel’s water supply.
Though contamination is unlikely, said officials, hotel staff and guests should exercise extreme caution. The Cecil Hotel relocated guests in 27 rooms to a different hotel Wednesday, but 11 rooms remained filled. Guests in those rooms were required to sign a waiver acknowledging that they were aware of the health risks and were provided bottled water for drinking.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is analyzing the water, according to Terrance Powell, a director coordinating the department’s response. The announcement contradicts a previous statement that the water is safe, according to CBS News. Results of the testing are expected to be released early Thursday.
Water for the Cecil Hotel is stored in four tanks on the roof of the hotel. Lam’s body was discovered in one of those four tanks, according to CBS News.
"Our biggest concern is going to be fecal contamination because of the body in the water," Powell said. The water is used regularly for cooking, cleaning and providing water to hotel guests. A coffee shop in the hotel will remain closed and was told to sanitize its equipment before reopening.
The LAPD is calling Lam’s death suspicious, and the coroner will determine her cause of death after an autopsy. A maintenance worker originally found Lam’s body after hotel guests complained of low water pressure.
Before she died, Lam was spotted on video surveillance inside an elevator, frantically pushing buttons, and sticking her head out the doors at each floor, as she looked in both directions. There are no video cameras on the roof of the hotel, so hotel staff are unsure how she got there. She was later found in the water tank.
The hotel has four water tanks on its roof; each is 4 feet tall, 4.5 feet wide and holds at least 1,000 gallons of water pumped up from city pipes, according to CBS News. Lam’s body was found Tuesday morning in one of those water tanks. It was three quarters full of water.