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Steigenberger Aqua Magic (photo: Deutsche Hospitality)

Cook CEO promises investigation of hotel deaths

A couple died of respiratory failure, but Peter Fankhauser says there is no evidence of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The chief executive of tour operator Thomas Cook boss promises to “get to the bottom” of the mysterious deaths last week of two tourists at a hotel in Hurghada, Egypt.

There is no evidence that John and Susan Cooper died of carbon monoxide poisoning, as has been speculated, Peter Fankhauser insisted to Sky News.

Investigations of the food, water, air conditioning and hygiene at the hotel are underway, he confirmed, adding that this process could take up to 10 days to complete.

The couple in their sixties died on the morning of August 21 after falling ill at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel, where they were on holiday with their daughter and grandchildren.

Thomas Cook has paid tribute to Susan Cooper as a “loyal and long-serving” member of staff at one of the tour operator’s branches in northern England.

Thirteen guests of Thomas Cook at the Steigenberger property suffered food poisoning but are not in a serious condition, TTG reports.

The couple’s daughter, Kelly Ormerod, told the BBC she witnessed her parents’ sudden deterioration the morning after a family meal. She believes something in the room was responsible for their deaths after they went to bed at around 1.30am “in perfect health”.

Respiratory failure
The governor’s office in Hurghada said John Cooper died of “a sudden stoppage of the heart muscles and respiratory failure”, while Susan Cooper died of “a stoppage of circulation and respiratory failure”.

The operator took all 301 of its guests out of the hotel as a “precautionary measure” amid reports of what it described as a “raised level of illness”.

“We have no real evidence what caused the deaths,” said Fankhauser. “But what I can promise is Thomas Cook is doing everything to support the family and to support the Egyptian authorities to get to the bottom of it and to get to the cause.

“There is no evidence it is a carbon monoxide poisoning. Twenty-four hours after the couple died we had we had our specialists in the hotel. They took probes of the food, of the hygiene systems, of [the] water, as well the air conditioning systems. All those probes are now in Egypt.

“They are now examining and testing the probes and we support them in doing that, but that takes about 10 days.”

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