Thomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser has vowed to “get to the bottom” of the deaths of two British tourists at a hotel in Egypt.
John and Susan Cooper, from Burnley, died last Tuesday morning (August 21) after falling ill at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada while holidaying with their daughter and grandchildren.
Cook has paid tribute to Mrs Cooper, who was described as a “loyal and long-serving” member of staff at the operator’s Chancery Walk branch.
Speaking to Sky News at the weekend, Fankhauser said there was no evidence Mr and Mrs Cooper died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and confirmed assessments of the food, water, air conditioning and hygiene practises at the hotel were under way - but could take the best part of 10 days to complete.
"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."
Cook pulled 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”. Holidaymakers were offered alternative accommodation or flights home, starting Friday (August 24).
Speaking to ITV, Fankhauser confirmed 13 Cook guests at the Steigenberger had suffered food poisoning, but were not in a serious condition.
The couple’s daughter, Kelly Ormerod, told the BBC she witnessed her parents’ sudden deterioration the morning after a family meal, adding she believed something in the room was responsible for their deaths after they went to bed at around 1.30am “in perfect health”.
Steigenberger, the hotel group that owns the hotel where Mr and Mrs Cooper died, said it was carrying out its own investigation and would do everything possible to assist the local authorities.
The local governor’s office in Hurghada said Mr Cooper died of "a sudden stoppage of the heart muscles and respiratory failure" and Mrs Cooper of "a stoppage of circulation and respiratory failure".
Thomas Cook’s latest statement on the situation said the circumstances “remained unclear” while moving to reiterate it had “no evidence” to suggest the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
It added the hotel was last audited in July 2018 receiving and overall score of 96%.