Egypt: Britons didn’t die from poison gas leak

Cairo: Egypt’s top prosecutor dismissed speculation that the death of two British tourists in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada was caused by poisonous gas emissions in their hotel room, as the hotel attributed their deaths to “natural causes”.

An inspection by the prosecutor’s technical team of John and Susan Cooper’s room found that there were no toxic or harmful gas emissions or leaks, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. All devices in the room were “functioning efficiently without any defects”, it added.

The prosecutor’s office is awaiting a forensic analysis of samples taken from the bodies to provide more details about the incident, it said. The statement came after the couple’s daughter, Kelly Ormerod, told Sky News that “something suspicious has gone on”, especially since her parents had not complained of any health problems before going on the holiday.

The Cooper couple’s deaths prompted tour operator Thomas Cook to evacuate its 301 customers, of various nationalities, from the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel as a “precautionary measure”. The company said the circumstances surrounding their deaths are “unclear” and that it received reports of “a raised level of illness among guests”.

In a statement Saturday, however, the hotel denied this, saying the couple’s death was due to “natural causes”.

“There are no indications to support allegations of an increased incidence of illness at the hotel. Such rash speculations should urgently be put aside out of respect for the family members of the deceased persons and for other guests,” the hotel said in an email to The Associated Press.

Also Saturday, Thomas Cook said approximately 100 Britons — roughly half of the UK guests they had staying at the hotel at the time — had returned home. The rest had opted to move to another hotel, the operator added.

Egyptian authorities dismissed criminal motives as being behind the deaths. An official statement by the Red Sea governorate on Friday said an initial medical examination of John Cooper showed he had suffered acute circulatory collapse and a sudden cardiac arrest. It also said Susan Cooper was later rushed to hospital after fainting and underwent resuscitation attempts for 30 minutes but died.

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