Thomas Cook last night evacuated all 300 of its customers from an Egyptian hotel after two guests died there amid fears they were poisoned by carbon monoxide.
Initial reports said Susan Cooper, 63, died ‘of grief’ after her husband John, 69, was killed by a heart attack while staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada.
But last night friends of the couple said they feared they were killed by the deadly gas and, as other guests complained of the symptoms of food poisoning, Thomas Cook moved all their customers and cancelled future arrivals.
Devoted: Susan Cooper, 63, and her husband John Cooper, 69 (pictured together), were on holiday at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada
Trip of a lifetime: The pair were staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel (pictured) in the resort
The travel firm said the move was a ‘precautionary measure’ due to a ‘raised level of illness among guests’. But previous visitors lined up online to slate the hotel, claiming the ‘dirty’ conditions left them sick and in some cases hospitalised.
The Coopers had been on a ‘holiday of a lifetime’ at the five-star Red Sea resort when they died within hours of each other on Tuesday. Their daughter Kelly Ormerod, 40, who was with them on the trip was also believed to have fallen ill but survived.
One friend told The Sun they suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. ‘No one can be sure until the post mortem,’ they said.
‘Some people have heard that Kelly felt unwell and went for a walk. When she came back her parents were dead.’
One of the tourists was a Thomas Cook employee at the Burnley branch (pictured) of the travel agent
Thomas Cook has now removed all its 300 customers from the hotel
Several past guests of the hotel have said online that they have fallen ill since staying there and say the standards are poor at the resort.
One guest, Daley Thompson, Tweeted yesterday: ‘I came back from aqua magic last Saturday and have had bad guts since! Do I need to worry after the news that as been released tonight?’
Kal-Sham said on a TripAdvisor review of the resort in May: ‘All 4 of us got ill (vomiting & diarrhoea) and ended up in hospital with the children (aged 2.5 & 1). My son was hospitalised again on our return.’
He added that he saw ‘birds eating at the food’ that the ‘bathroom was smelly’ and ‘waiters were not friendly towards children.’
In their statement, Thomas Cook said they were ‘deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of two of our customers’ at the hotel. They said the cause of the deaths was ‘still unclear’.
The travel firm said there has been an increased level of illness among guests. Pictured a room in the hotel
Thomas Cook’s move comes amid a food poisoning scare at the hotel
On Facebook, Alison Cope, said: ‘This is the hotel we are in. Thomas Cook are moving all their customers out tomorrow due to an increase in sickness! I wish all the Cooper family love and respect and am I very sorry for their loss. I think the food standards in the hotel have been very poor and the hotel is full of senior Thomas Cook Management due to the very sad deaths. The cause of death hasn’t been officially released but they are taking things very seriously.’
John Cooper, who ran his own building company in their hometown of Burnley, Lancashire, had a heart attack and was rushed to hospital where he died on Tuesday.
Susan was a long-serving Thomas Cook employee, died ‘of grief’ just hours later, said Dr Maged Eledawy, the head of Hurghada Hospital.
Mrs Cooper, a long-serving Thomas Cook employee, died ‘of grief’ just hours later after her husband died of a heart attack
Some of the one-star reviews the hotel has received on TripAdvisor
‘The loveliest couple’: Mrs Cooper, a long-serving Thomas Cook employee in her hometown of Burnley, died ‘of grief’ just hours after her husband (pictured together)
Sources in Egypt told MailOnline Mrs Cooper died due to low blood pressure which lead to her heart stopping.
It is thought the low blood pressure was caused by the nervous shock she experienced when her husband passed away.
Heartbroken Kelly was believed to still be in Hurghada today with her husband Daren, and the pair were being supported by the British Foreign Office.
A neighbour of Kelly’s said: ‘She is beside herself with grief. She is so close to both her parents, particularly her mum, who was her best friend.
‘Our hearts go out to her, we don’t know how she’ll cope with such a sudden and shocking loss. They are well known and much loved in the community. This is a devastating blow.’
Mrs Ormerod lives just a mile away from her parents John and Susan Cooper’s luxury home in Burnley, Lancashire, which was lovingly built by her father. He ran a reputable building company JJ Cooper ‘Safe As Houses.’
A devastated friend told MailOnline: ‘They were the loveliest couple you could ever wish to meet.
‘They were devoted to each other and couldn’t live without each other. Our hearts are breaking. This is such sad news.’
A neighbour, named as Gillian, described the pair as ‘socialable and popular, adding: ‘They loved travelling and had been all over.
‘They were the nicest people, warm and welcoming, and always had a smile for you. They were pure gold and you don’t find many couples like them.
‘I can’t believe they’ve gone. It is so tragic.’
Another neighbour added: ‘We’ve heard the news, and it’s heartbreaking.
‘They were a lovely couple. It’s a total tragedy and our hearts go out to the family’.
The Burnley Thomas Cook store where Mrs Cooper worked was shut today with a sign on the door reading: ‘Due to unforeseen circumstances this store will be closed.’
A devastated friend of the couple (pictured) told MailOnline: ‘They were the loveliest couple you could every wish to meet’
A notice on the door of the Thomas Cook store says: ‘Due to unforeseen circumstances this store will be closed today’
A colleague at a nearby Thomas Cook store said: ‘We are a close team and we know the member of staff who died. It is heartbreaking and tragic.
‘Mrs Cooper had gone on a trip of a lifetime and sadly will never come back. The store is closed as a sign of respect.
‘The team there are devastated and closed up shop yesterday.’
Thomas Cook’s Head of Customer Welfare, Carol Mackenzie, flew to Hurghada last night to offer support to the couple’s families.
The company said in a statement: ‘We are deeply saddened by the deaths of two of our customers while on holiday in Hurghada in Egypt, one of whom was a loyal and long-serving member of our Thomas Cook family.
‘Our focus is on fully supporting their loved ones. We are urgently investigating with the hotel and supporting the local authorities.’
They added: ‘Safety is always our first priority, so as a precautionary measure we have taken a decision to remove all our customers from this hotel.
‘We will be offering customers alternative hotels within Hurghada, as well as giving them the option to return home. For those customers who choose to come home, we have made arrangements to fly them back tomorrow, 24 August. While we understand this is upsetting for those on holiday, we believe this is the right thing to do.
‘We continue to work closely with the hotel and are supporting the authorities with their investigations. The Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel was last audited by Thomas Cook in late July 2018 and received an overall score of 96%.
‘We will be contacting those customers due to travel to the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada in the next four weeks to offer alternative holiday options.’
The Thomas Cook website describes Hurghada (pictured in stock image) as ‘the capital of the Red Sea Riviera’
The Thomas Cook website describes Hurghada as ‘the capital of the Red Sea Riviera, where beautiful beaches, vibrant nightclubs and world-class diving destinations await.’
The company offers all-inclusive holidays to around 20 hotels there.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British couple who died in Hurghada, Egypt and we are in contact with the local tour operator.’
Have YOU recently stayed at the hotel or are you due to stay at it?
Last year Hurghada was thrown into chaos when a knifeman killed two German women and injured four tourists on the beach.
Police said the assailant swam from a nearby beach before stabbing people while shouting: ‘Stay away, I don’t want Egyptians.’
In January 2016, three foreign tourists were stabbed at the same resort by two suspected ISIS militants.
Last year the resort (pictured) was thrown into chaos when a knifeman killed two German women and injured four tourists on the beach