Thomas Cook evacuates 300 from Egyptian hotel after couple’s deaths

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The couple had been on holiday with their daughter, who was reportedly taken ill but has survived (Photo courtesy of Facebook)
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This Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 photo taken from video shows the exterior of the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 24 August 2018
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Thomas Cook evacuates 300 from Egyptian hotel after couple’s deaths

  • Thomas Cook said it had received further reports of illness among guests, without elaborating
  • Thomas Cook said it would offer the customers alternative hotels in the resort or the option to fly back to Britain later on Friday

LONDON/CAIRO: Britain’s Thomas Cook said it was evacuating all 301 of its customers from a hotel in Egypt’s popular Red Sea resort of Hurghada as a precautionary measure after two of its holidaymakers died in circumstances it said were still unclear.
Local officials said on Friday both deaths were from heart failure, but Egypt’s public prosecutor said the cause was still not yet clear.
John Cooper, 69, and his wife Susan Cooper, a 63-year old who worked for the holiday company in Britain, were staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel and died within hours of each other on Tuesday.
Thomas Cook said it had received further reports of illness among guests at the hotel, without elaborating.
“Safety is always our first priority, so as a precautionary measure we have taken a decision to remove all our customers from this hotel,” the company said.
The hotel said there had not been a rise in cases of illness.
The incident comes as Egypt is trying to revive tourism, a crucial source of income, while the economy is still struggling from the years of turmoil that followed a 2011 popular uprising.
A statement from the Red Sea provincial governor’s office, entitled “normal death of an English old man and his wife,” said both had died of heart failure.
John Cooper suffered a “circulatory collapse” and died at the hotel. Susan Cooper was taken to hospital after fainting and died there, it said.
Egypt’s public prosecutor later issued a statement saying the cause of the deaths would be revealed as soon as it became clear.
The couple’s daughter Kelly Ormerod, who was on the same holiday along with her three children, also said the cause of death had not been established.
“Mum and Dad were fit and healthy, they had no known health problems,” she said in a statement to British local radio station 2BR. “We have no cause of death, a post mortem is underway.”
“Dad never went to hospital, he died in the hotel room in front of me. I went to hospital in the ambulance with mum where she passed away,” she said.
The general manager of the Aqua Magic, which is a franchise of Frankfurt-based Deutsche Hospitality, said the hotel was deeply saddened.
“The doctor’s preliminary report indicates that death was due to natural causes,” Dieter Geiger said in a statement. “There are no indications to support allegations of an increased incidence of illness at the hotel.”
Thomas Cook said it would offer customers alternative hotels in the resort or the option to fly back to Britain later on Friday.
The company said it had last audited the hotel in late July and it had received an overall score of 96 percent.
A spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office said: “We continue to support the family of a couple who died in Hurghada. Anyone staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel should follow the advice of their tour operator and the local authorities.”
After the bombing of a Russian passenger jet flying from Sharm El-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula in 2015, Egypt-bound flights from Russia were halted for more than two years, hurting Egyptian tourism revenues.
Revenues have improved in recent months, however, jumping 83 percent in the first quarter of 2018 to $2.2 billion.
Red Sea resorts such as Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh are among the most popular among European and other holidaymakers.


Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in border clashes: Gaza ministry

Updated 24 September 2018
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Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in border clashes: Gaza ministry

GAZA CITY: Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian in fresh clashes on the Gaza border Sunday, the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said.
Imad Ishtawi, 21, was shot in the head, the ministry said, as Palestinians again gathered along the border east of Gaza City late Sunday in the latest in months of often violent demonstrations.
The strip’s rulers Hamas had been rumored to be seeking a lasting truce with Israel but the indirect talks have seemingly stalled, with protests subsequently increasing in number.
In recent weeks the demonstrations, which typically involve burning tires and throwing stones, have also taken place at night, though with far smaller numbers than the regular Friday daytime gatherings.
At least 186 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began on March 30.
One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of Gaza for more than a decade it says is necessary to isolate Hamas.