Bodies of British couple who died in Egypt will be repatriated
THE bodies of a British couple who died on a Thomas Cook holiday in Egypt will be repatriated next week, the country's minister of tourism said.
John and Susan Cooper, from Burnley, were staying in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada when they died on August 21.
Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser flew to Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the deaths with prime minister Dr Mostafa Madbouly and minister of tourism Rania Al-Mashat.
Following the meeting, Ms Al-Mashat said "detailed autopsies" are being conducted by a team of forensic pathologists. The process is expected to be concluded next week.
She went on: "When the pathologists have completed their detailed forensic analysis our priority will be, of course, to then contact the Cooper family in England to explain the findings as they, more than anyone, need to know what took away John and Susan.
"Their bodies will then be repatriated next week with the Cooper family in England."
A separate investigation led by Egyptian prosecutor Nabil Sadeq is testing food, water and air conditioning at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel, where the couple were based.
This will be "robust, thorough and independent", Ms Al-Mashat said.
Mr Sadeq has previously said an inspection of the Coopers' hotel bedroom found no harmful gas emissions or leaks.
Ms Al-Mashat added: "It is crucial for everyone involved in the tragic passing away of John and Susan, none more so than the grieving Cooper family, that we get to the bottom of the matter and determine the truth based on evidence."
A Thomas Cook spokesman said Mr Fankhauser "reiterated his personal commitment, and the commitment of everyone at Thomas Cook, to get to the bottom of what went wrong".
The chief executive also met the British ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, and deputy head of mission Helen Winterton.
Thomas Cook pledged to continue to work with the Egyptian authorities and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to "prioritise the very best interests of the Cooper family".
The spokesman added: "The well-being of our customers in Egypt remains of paramount importance."
Thomas Cook moved 300 guests out of the hotel 24 hours after the couple died as a precaution after becoming aware of an increased number of illnesses.
Mr Fankhauser confirmed that 13 customers had food poisoning but were not in a serious condition.
Thomas Cook has commissioned its own tests into food hygiene and air conditioning at the hotel, although it has not been granted access to the Coopers' room. The results are due in the middle of next week.
Christi and Bobby Shepherd died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Thomas Cook holiday bungalow in 2006.
A 2015 inquest jury concluded that the tour operator breached its duty of care over their deaths.