Hurghada latest: Tourists evacuated from Egyptian hotel after British couple found dead

‘The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear,’ says holiday firm

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 24 August 2018 08:25
Comments
Egyptian hotel evacuated after British couple found dead

Three days after the deaths of two British holidaymakers in Egypt, Thomas Cook is moving all its customers from the hotel where they apparently fell fatally ill.

The firm will start to evacuate 301 guests from the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada, on the Red Sea coast, early on Friday morning.

In a statement, Thomas Cook called it “a precautionary measure”.

“While we understand this is upsetting for those on holiday, we believe this is the right thing to do,”

Susan Cooper, 64, and her husband John Cooper, 69, died in Hurghada on Tuesday. They are believed to have been on holiday with their daughter, Kelly Ormerod, and their grandchildren.

Reports say that Mr Cooper died first and that a few hours later his wife suffered a heart attack.

The tour operator said: “The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear.”

But the statement added: “We have also received further reports of a raised level of illness among guests.”

The implication is that Mr Cooper may have succumbed to a virulent illness. It is highly unusual for a tour operator to evacuate a complete hotel.

Carol MacKenzie, Thomas Cook’s group head of customer welfare, has flown to Hurghada to support the family.

Thomas Cook said: “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 per cent.”

Mr and Mrs Cooper were from Burnley in Lancashire. Susan Cooper was a long-serving employee of Thomas Cook at a branch in Burnley.

The travel agency was closed all day on Thursday. A note in the window reads: “Due to unforeseen circumstances this store will be closed today.”

Thomas Cook is the UK’s leading tour operator to Egypt, and is believed to have between 1,000 and 2,000 British customers in Hurghada at present.

Around 400 are due to return on flights to Gatwick and Manchester on Friday evening, but Thomas Cook is also offering customers who are booked to stay longer the option to return early.

A larger aircraft will be deployed to and from Manchester in order to carry the extra passengers. It is due to leave Manchester at 1.55pm this afternoon, returning at 2.30am on Saturday.

Thomas Cook customers with advance bookings in the next four weeks to stay at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic have been offered alternative accommodation at no extra charge.

The holiday company has taken the Steigenberger Aqua Magic off sale, but the hotel is still selling rooms direct to customers. It promotes itself as offering “five-star fun”, and features a water park and a private beach.

The hotel is part of the well-regarded Steigenberger chain. The firm is based in Germany but has a strong presence in Egypt, including four hotels in Hurghada.

Since the ban on flights by UK airlines to Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada has become the focus of British tourism to Egypt’s Red Sea shoreline.

The prohibition on flying to Sharm el Sheikh was imposed three years ago. It followed the apparent downing of a Russian charter flight by a bomb placed on board at the resort’s airport; 224 people died when a Metrojet flight to St Petersburg in Russia crashed in the Sinai desert.

Earlier in the summer, Thomas Cook said visitor numbers to Egypt had almost doubled this year compared with 2017.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in