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NEWS 1


YOU NEED TO KNOW


John and Susan Cooper died while staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada last week


AT A GLANCE Hurghada hotel tests


l The Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada where Susan and John Cooper died is being audited to establish the cause of the couple’s death.


l It is one of 3,000 hotels in Thomas Cook’s core portfolio which are independently audited every year.


l The hotel, currently off sale with Cook, received an overall score of 96% in an audit in late July covering food hygiene, water safety and children’s facilities.


Cook vows to ‘get to the bottom’ of deaths in Egypt


Juliet Dennis and Amie Keeley


Investigations are continuing into the sudden deaths of a Thomas Cook travel agent and her husband on holiday in Egypt as industry professionals admit they are baffled by the tragedy.


Susan Cooper, 63, who worked


at Cook’s Burnley branch, and husband John, 69, died last Tuesday (August 21). They were on a Cook holiday at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. Cook chief executive Peter


Fankhauser has pledged to “get to the bottom” of the deaths following reports of an unusual smell in the couple’s room and speculation of legionnaire’s disease


or carbon monoxide poisoning. Cook said there was “no evidence”


of carbon monoxide poisoning but described the circumstances around the deaths as “unclear”. Test results on food, water and air conditioning are due to be released by the end of next week. John Cooper died in his hotel


room at 11am after a “sharp drop in blood circulation”, according to Egyptian authorities. His cause of death was listed as sudden heart and respiratory failure. Susan Cooper was taken to hospital five hours later in a “state of fainting”. She was given heart recovery treatment for 30 minutes but died at around 5pm. Egyptian investigators said there was no evidence of toxic gas emissions or leaks in the hotel room, while the Red Sea


4 travelweekly.co.uk 30 August 2018


“Cook does audits in a way nobody else does, especially for carbon monoxide”


governorate said medical checks revealed “no criminal suspicions”. The couple’s daughter, Kelly


Ormerod, who was at the hotel and found her parents gravely ill, said she did not think her parents died from natural causes. Professor Rodney Cartwright, a


retired consultant microbiologist and former medical adviser to the travel industry, said: “For two people to die like this is very unusual. I’ve not seen a case like this before, where two people have died like this, apart from carbon monoxide poisoning. The most


l Results of new tests by SGS, Cook’s independent, global health and safety auditors, are due next week. The specialists in food hygiene, fuel and air conditioning have taken food and water samples and are testing air quality and more at the hotel.


important thing is to put all the evidence together before jumping to any conclusions.” An industry expert said Cook


operated the most-stringent health and safety checks in the wake of the deaths of children Bobby and Christi Shepherd from carbon monoxide in Corfu 12 years ago. He said: “They do audits in a way


nobody else does, especially when it comes to carbon monoxide. They are almost obsessive about it because of the Corfu incident.” Cook evacuated 301 customers


from the Egyptian hotel as a “precautionary measure”. Of these, 225 were from the UK, of whom 118 opted to return home. Customers with forward bookings


are being offered alternative hotels at no extra cost or the option to cancel for the next four weeks.


PICTURE: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK


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