The bodies of a British couple who died on a Thomas Cook holiday in Egypt will be repatriated next week, the country’s minister of tourism said.
John and Susan Cooper, from Burnley in Lancashire, died after falling ill at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada.
Egyptian minister Rania Al-Mashat announced today that forensic pathologists are carrying out ‘detailed autopsies’ on the bodies of John and Susan Cooper.
This process is expected to be completed next week.
Susan Cooper, 63, and her husband John Cooper, 69, were on holiday at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada when they died within hours of each other
Ms Al-Mashat said: ‘When the pathologists have completed their detailed forensic analysis our priority will be, of course, to then contact the Cooper family in England to explain the findings as they, more than anyone, need to know what took away John and Susan.
‘Their bodies will then be repatriated next week with the Cooper family in England.’
Mr Cooper, 69, died in his room, while Mrs Cooper, 63, a Thomas Cook employee, is understood to have died after being taken to hospital.
Their daughter Kelly Ormerod said there was ‘something suspicious’ behind the deaths and described her parents as being in ‘perfect health’ hours before being taken ill.
Numerous former guests of the hotel have said food they were served at the resort was raw and undercooked.
It emerged today that Thomas Cook was successfully sued last month after a family suffered gastric illness while staying at same Egyptian hotel in April 2016.
The family of four from South Wales accused the tour operator of failing to ensure food and drink at the hotel was ‘safe for human consumption’ and permitted food to be ‘re-served or re-used on more than one occasion’.
Manchester law firm JMW Solicitors, who acted for the family, said Newport County Court ordered Thomas Cook to pay £26,000 in compensation and costs.
Mr and Mrs Cooper’s daughter, Kelly Ormerod, has questioned how they could have fallen ill so quickly, saying there is ‘something suspicious about their deaths
The family who sued Thomas Cook claimed they suffered stomach illnesses for around two months.
The case went to trial after Thomas Cook denied liability.
Joanne Brine, a partner at JMW Solicitors, said the firm commissioned a handwriting expert who found that the hotel’s food temperature and cleaning records were completed by one person despite four different people apparently signing the entries.
She went on: ‘It’s very sad to hear of the deaths of John and Susan Cooper on what should have been a happy family holiday, yet also incredibly concerning given our experience with this hotel in regards to hygiene standards.
‘The fact that we have brought concerns to Thomas Cook’s attention about the accuracy and reliability of the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel’s record-keeping should set off alarm bells for those investigating what the failings of the management team to safeguard the health of its guests may have been on this occasion.
‘I sincerely hope that a thorough investigation will make sure that the family get the answers they need to understand exactly what happened inside that hotel room and to ensure the safety of future holidaymakers is prioritised.’
A family who suffered food poisoning at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in 2016 have since been awarded £26,000 in compensation
Thomas Cook said in a statement: ‘The safety and well-being of our customers is always our first priority and we would never send customers to a hotel which we do not believe to be safe.
‘We audit all 3,000 of our core hotels every year and so far this calendar year we have removed 47 hotels for health and safety reasons and a further 150 which did not meet our strict quality criteria.
‘As well as the audits, our quality teams regularly inspect our properties and provide support, guidance and training to help hotels improve. We last audited Steigenberger Aqua Magic in July 2018.’
Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser flew to Egypt on Wednesday to meet the country’s prime minister to discuss the deaths.
The firm is hoping to obtain permission from Egyptian authorities to access the hotel room where the Coopers were staying.
Mr Fankhauser has previously insisted there is ‘no real evidence what caused the deaths’ but pledged to support the family and Egyptian authorities to ‘get to the bottom of it and to get to the cause’.