Corfu coroner fears future carbon monoxide deaths

Corfu coroner fears future carbon monoxide deaths

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Fresh action is being demanded to protect holidaymakers from carbon monoxide poisoning – including a new ‘central register’ to compel tour operators to keep up-to-date information on gas and appliances at all hotels and holiday homes.

The government is being urged to back new EU controls on gas boilers by the coroner who investigated how two British children died from carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday in Corfu.
 
David Hinchliff raised fears of "future deaths" unless radical steps were taken.

His call comes a year after the government rejected the idea of new Europe-wide safety rules on holiday accommodation, warning it would impose “an unnecessary cost on tourism firms in England”.

Hinchliff ruled earlier this year that the deaths of Bobby Shepherd, six, and his sister Christi, seven, in 2006 were caused by a faulty boiler. Thomas Cook was also found to have breached its duty of care.

In an official report – seen by the Mail on Sunday – the coroner called on ministers to “draft, instigate and implement EU legislation on gas installations and carbon monoxide safety”. He gave them until next month to respond.

Hinchliff also called on Thomas Cook to be ‘at the forefront’ of the industry’s drive to improve standards.

The coroner also called for:

  • Safety checks to be carried out by qualified health and safety specialists – not ‘often inexperienced and overworked’ tour reps;
  • Publicity campaigns to encourage tourists to take portable carbon monoxide detectors on holiday;
  • All brochures to contain ‘clear and easy-to-understand’ warnings about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He is reported to have wrote: “The industry should endeavour to regulate itself by introducing improvements in the health and safety of holidaymakers.”

Mary Creagh, MP for the Wakefield family whose children died in Corfu, said: “The prime minister should prioritise the safety of British tourists as he renegotiates the UK’s relationship with the EU.”

She added that Thomas Cook “now has an opportunity to show leadership” in preventing another tragedy – because “where it leads, others will follow”.

Thomas Cook said it was reviewing the coroner’s report.

A spokesman added: “We will continue to work with the travel industry to identify possible improvements across the industry.”

A government spokesman said: “We are examining the report carefully and will respond to the coroner shortly.”

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