The Sunday Times: At least 30 got food poisoning at Egyptian hotel where English couple died
The Egyptian hotel where an English couple died last week has suffered at least 30 food poisoning cases in the past 10 days, it has emerged.
John Cooper, 69, died in front of his daughter in the five-star Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada on Tuesday. Hours later, his wife Susan, 64, was rushed to hospital, where she also died. They had booked their trip with Thomas Cook, which was also Susan Cooper’s employer.
An Egyptian autopsy report last week claimed they died of natural causes. Dr Maged Eladawy, head of Hurghada hospital, said John Cooper died from natural causes and his wife “from grief” three hours later.
Ahmed Abdullah, the governor for the Red Sea province, backed this up in a statement: “Normal death of an English old man and his wife.”
The findings were widely ridiculed as unscientific and were rejected by the Cooper family.
A second autopsy began yesterday, again overseen by the Egyptian authorities. Its results are not yet known but it emerged that health inspectors had found that the hotel’s medical centre and pharmacy saw a surge in purchases of treatments for diarrhoea and vomiting over the past week, which had not been formally reported.
“About 20 people appear to have been ill before last Wednesday and another 11 came forward since then,” said a source at the hotel.
Sven Hirschler, senior director of corporate communications for Steigenberger Hotels, said a major investigation was under way, but added: “The doctor at the hotel reports that there is no increase in food poisoning cases.”
This was directly contradicted by others, including Thomas Cook, which confirmed 13 new cases of food poisoning among its own customers and 20 among hotel guests from other travel firms.
Peter Fankhauser, chief executive of Thomas Cook, told Sky News: “We have no real evidence what caused the deaths, but what I can promise is at Thomas Cook we are 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.”