A couple who died at a resort hotel in Egypt were “fit and healthy” before their holiday, their daughter has said.
Kelly Ormerod, was on a break with her parents, John and Susan Cooper, from Burnley, Lancashire, and her three children when tragedy struck.
The family were staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada when Mr Cooper, 69, died in his room.
Mrs Ormerod said her 63-year-old mother, a Thomas Cook employee, was taken to hospital but died.
She said the family were in “utter shock” as they awaited results of post-mortem examinations on the couple, who had booked the holiday with Thomas Cook.
There is currently no evidence to suggest the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, which had been reported as a possible factor, the travel operator said.
The circumstances of the deaths remain unclear, the company said, adding that it has sent 24 staff to support around 300 customers in the hotel.
In a statement to Lancashire-based radio station 2BR, Mrs Ormerod said: “As a family we are devastated. Mum and Dad meant the world to me and the children, and we are in utter shock over what has happened and what is happening.
“Prior to going on holiday, Mum and Dad were fit and healthy. They had no health problems at all.
“What I want is to clear up some of what is being reported. We have no cause of death, a post-mortem is under way.
“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.
“Thomas Cook have been amazing, we have support from the company and I can’t praise them enough for what they’ve done.
“My focus is on getting my children home. All we want is answers about what has happened and a cause of death.
“I’d also like to thank people at home for their messages of love and support during this horrendous ordeal.”
Fellow guest Alison Cope, from Moseley, Birmingham, said she has been at the hotel for two weeks, and five out of seven of her family members have been ill for around 10 days.
The 44-year-old, who flies home on Friday evening, told the Press Association that other guests had been ill, saying: “The food is just disgusting, it’s undercooked. I know so many people have been ill.
“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.”
Dieter Geiger, general manager at Aqua Magic, said he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.
“The doctor’s preliminary report indicates that death was due to natural causes,” he said.
“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.”
Around 300 customers are being offered alternative hotels within Hurghada as well as the option to return home, Thomas Cook said.
Ms Cope believes most guests are choosing to fly home rather than move resort.
She added that a woman believed to be the couple’s daughter mentioned a faulty air conditioning unit.
Ms Cope said: “A family member of the Coopers mentioned air conditioning when they were very upset.
“I believe it was Kelly – she approached us at the drinks and said ‘Are you English?’ She was very upset, saying ‘It’s the air conditioning’. But we just don’t know.”
Ahmed Abdallah, the governor of Hurghada, told the Times newspaper: “This claim is not logical because the air conditioner of the hotel is central and if there is a leak it would have affected all the 2,500 guests at the hotel.
“Also, we took a sample of the food of the hotel for testing. But if there is a problem with the food it would have affected other people.”
A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “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.
“The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear. We have also received further reports of a raised level of illness among guests.
“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 spokesman added on Thursday: “For those customers who choose to come home, we have made arrangements to fly them back tomorrow, August 24.
“While we understand this is upsetting for those on holiday, we believe this is the right thing to do.
“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%.
“We will be contacting those customers due to travel to the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada in the next four weeks to offer alternative holiday options.”
The listing for the hotel on the Thomas Cook website includes a line saying: “Sorry, there is currently no availability.”
Alban Barker, who lives close to the Coopers’ home and knew Mr Cooper for around 30 years, paid tribute to a “really great couple”.
He told the Press Association Mr Cooper was a clay pigeon shooting enthusiast and had carried out extensive building work for him, his daughters, and friends, and was an “extremely good, very reliable builder”.
The 70-year-old said: “They were Burnley season ticket-holders and used to come into the local pub after games for a chat. I’ll be going tonight and the mood may be quite sombre.
“I bumped into them the other week and told him ‘It’s about time you retired’ and he just laughed and said ‘I’m fine, I’m fit enough’.
“He looked well, did John, he was a strong man. They were both working and were quite fit people, his is a physical job.
“They both worked jolly hard and used to go on holiday regularly. They seemed to go everywhere together.”