Egypt expects to complete British couple's autopsies 'next week'

Cairo (AFP) –


Egyptian pathologists should next week complete the autopsies of a British couple who died on holiday, officials said Thursday, pledging to "leave no stone unturned" in determining the cause of death.

John and Susan Cooper passed away last week after falling ill suddenly during an all-inclusive stay at a plush hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

Tour operator Thomas Cook moved all its other customers from the hotel after the couple died in what their daughter called "suspicious" circumstances.

The company said it was unclear what caused the deaths of the couple in their 60s, while Egyptian authorities initially pointed to natural causes and said there were no signs of violence.

Thomas Cook's chief executive Peter Fankhauser jetted into Cairo Wednesday to meet Egypt's prime minister and tourism minister and follow up on the investigations.

"Detailed autopsies on the two bodies are currently being conducted by a team of forensic pathologists," Tourism Minister Rania al-Mashat said in a statement Thursday.

"It would be inappropriate to attach a specific date to this but I anticipate this will be concluded during next week."

Mashat said Egypt would "leave no stone unturned in determining the actual cause of death" and would repatriate the bodies to Britain once the autopsies are completed.

Egypt's attorney general is also leading a separate probe "examining in forensic detail all hygiene aspects of the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel", the statement said.

Investigators "will test food, water and air conditioning", it said, with this work also expected to be completed next week.

Egyptian authorities have already said that there were no toxic gas leaks from the appliances in the couple's room.

Thomas Cook called the meeting with the Egyptian officials "constructive" and said it had been given reassurances that answers would be provided "as swiftly as possible".

Egypt's key tourism industry has been recovering from a devastating blow in 2015 when jihadists bombed a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 on board.