Picture credit: Steigenberger Aqua Magic, Deutsche Hospitality
All Thomas Cook holidaymakers are being moved out of a hotel in Egypt due to a “raised level of illness” after a couple died within hours of each other.
The action came after the company confirmed the woman staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada was a travel agent who worked in its Burnley branch.
Susan Cooper, 63, was on a Thomas Cook all-inclsuive holiday at the Red Sea resort with her husband John, aged 69.
The travel company said the circumstances of their deaths was “unclear” but around 300 guests from across a variety of nationalities will be moved today.
The reports of illness are thought to be gastro-related sickness.
All customers booked with Thomas Cook to stay at the hotel over the next month are being offered alternative holidays.
The Burnley agency where Cooper worked has closed yesterday out of respect, the company said.
Mr Cooper is reported to have suffered a heart attack and his wife, a long-serving employee, died shortly after.
The couple’s daughter, Kelly Ormerod, was reported last night as suggesting they may have died due to faulty air conditioning.
However, the governor of Hurghada, Ahmed Abdallah, told The Times: “Their daughter said to the prosecutors that there might [have been a] leaking air conditioner.
“This claim is not logical because the air conditioner of the hotel is central and if there is a leak it would have affected all the 2,500 guests at the hotel.
“Also, we took a sample of the food of the hotel for testing. But if there is a problem with the food it would have affected other people.”
He added that the daughter’s claim had led to an order for an autopsy on her mother, but there would be no post-mortem examination of Mr Cooper because he had “clearly suffered a heart attack”.
He said: “We found a bag of medicine at his room. He suffered many health issues. His wife died two or three hours after him. It could be due to neural shock or she might have taken something [to end her life].”
A senior police officer at Hurghada said: “On Tuesday, the husband felt sick. A doctor came to see him at his room in the hotel but the man died. His wife died shortly after.”
The hotel declined to comment.
In a statement last night, Thomas Cook said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of two of our customers that were staying in the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada, Egypt.
“The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear. We have also received further reports of a raised level of illness among guests.
“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 company added: “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.”
A Foreign and Commonwealth 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.”