Egypt hotel deaths: Official confirms 'strange odour' in John and Susan Cooper room

Greg Heffer, news reporter

There was a "strange odour" in the Egyptian hotel room where a British couple died, the local governor has confirmed.

The daughter of John and Susan Cooper, from Burnley, Lancashire, believes there was something in their room that killed them .

Kelly Ormerod, who had been on holiday with her parents, revealed her daughter "could smell something that was a little bit funny" in her grandparents' room.

They attempted to cover the smell by spraying "a little bit of perfume" after dinner, Ms Ormerod has said.

Her parents failed to come down for breakfast the next day before Ms Ormerod found them both seriously ill in their room at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada.

Mr Cooper, 69, died in the room while Thomas Cook employee Mrs Cooper, 63, died after being taken to hospital, according to their daughter.

Major general Ahmed Abdullah, governor of Egypt's Red Sea region where the hotel is located, confirmed on the region's Facebook page that "there was a strange odour in the room".

The room was sealed off while specialist engineers inspected ventilation and air conditioning systems. The Coopers' bodies will be analysed by a forensic laboratory in capital Cairo, the governor added.

Mr Abdullah also responded to claims a large number of the hotel's guests had suffered from "severe fatigue".

He said only 23 of the hotel's 1,995 guests visited the on-site clinic or requested medical assistance in the last week, just 1.2% of the total number of visitors.

The governor said those guests feeling unwell had been found to be suffering from stomach cramps, for example, as a result of swallowing seawater; while others had spent too long in the sun.

Travel operator Thomas Cook ordered the evacuation of all of its guests staying at the hotel in the wake of the Coopers' deaths last Tuesday.

The company said around 300 guests were staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel, with just over half returning home and the rest choosing to move to other hotels.

Mr Abdullah claimed 160 of 261 guests refused to leave the Hurghada resort, which he said "shows the confidence of the British tourist" in the safety of the region's hotels.

At the weekend, officials said an inspection of the Coopers' hotel room revealed there were no toxic or harmful gas emissions or leaks.

Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Frankhauser told Sky News there is "no evidence" of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The firm's own specialists, who have analysed food, hygiene systems, water and air conditioning at the hotel, are expected to report back with findings next week.

He added Thomas Cook decided to move guests out of the hotel 24 hours after the deaths, as a precaution when the company became aware of an "increased number" of illnesses.

Mr Frankhauser confirmed 13 customers had food poisoning but were not in a serious condition.