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'Healthy' Couple's Death Gets a Little Clearer

John and Susan Cooper suddenly got sick and died at Egyptian hotel
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2018 10:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – A British couple that died unexpectedly at an Egyptian hotel may have fallen victim to severe food poisoning, the Sun reports. To recap: John Cooper and his wife Susan Cooper, both in their 60s and described as "fit and healthy," died Tuesday while vacationing at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada. Now British vacationer Paul Vanstone, 41, says he and his family suffered diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps after being served raw chicken at the hotel, and another traveler says his daughter was "on her knees with food poisoning" after staying there. "What we had this time was far worse than we've ever had in Egypt," says Vanstone. "We've been four or five times. It could be chicken, it could have been the water, it could have been anything that you can get salmonella from." For more:

  • "The food is just disgusting, it's undercooked. I know so many people have been ill," says Alison Cope, a traveler from Birmingham, UK. "Half the time we don't know what it is and can't eat it because it's raw in the middle. We've spent almost two weeks at a five-star hotel eating bread and chips because we at least know what it is."

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  • But the hotel denies any unusual amount of sickness and says the Coopers died of natural causes, the New York Times reports. So far Egyptian authorities agree, saying John died of a "sudden failure in the heart muscle and respiratory failure," while Susan was killed by a "drop of blood circulation and respiratory functions.
  • The travel company Thomas Cook evacuated 301 travelers from the hotel as a precautionary measure, the Evening Standard reports. "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," says the company. "The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear. We have also received further reports of a raised level of illness among guests."
  • "I watched them die before my very eyes and they had exactly the same symptoms," the Coopers' daughter, Kelly Ormerod, tells Sky News. "I believe something suspicious has gone on. I don't believe anyone has entered the room, but something has happened in that room and caused them to be taken away from us."
  • An Egyptian prosecutor says the hotel's air-conditioning system wasn't behind the surprise deaths, Reuters reports. "All equipment [in the Coopers' room] was sound and that there was no leakage or emission of any poisonous or harmful gases," the prosecutor's office says.
  • "As a family we are devastated," says Ormerod in a statement, per the Burnley Express. "... We have no cause of death, a post-mortem is underway. ... My focus is on getting my children home." She adds that she'd "also like to thank people at home for their messages of love and support during this horrendous ordeal."
(Read more Egypt stories.)

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