Corfu deaths caused by gas poisoning

Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia said yesterday that criminal charges would be brought against those found to be responsible for the deaths of two British children on Corfu last week as tests confirmed carbon monoxide poisoning killed the children. Seven-year-old Christianne and her brother Robert, 6, were found dead on Thursday morning – alongside their comatose father, Neil Shepherd, 38, and his partner Ruth Beatson, 28 – by a cleaner in their room at a luxury seaside resort in Gouvia, where they had arrived for a weeklong holiday. Coroner Theodore Vouyiouklakis said on Saturday that autopsies conducted showed a large quantity of carbon monoxide in the blood of the two children. «There is no doubt that the cause of death was the inhalation of carbon monoxide,» said Vouyiouklakis. Complete toxicological tests will be ready in about 10 to 15 days. The odorless toxic fumes probably entered the room where the children were sleeping from a leaking pipe connecting a gas-fired water boiler outside the room, according to authorities. Charges of manslaughter due to negligence may be leveled against the hotel and the maintenance company responsible for the upkeep of the gas boiler, once the investigation has been completed. «There will be charges laid against whoever is responsible,» the tourism minister told journalists in Moscow. Shepherd and Beatson have since emerged from comas but have remained in the hospital. They were reported to be in a stable condition. Doctors expected the couple to be released from the hospital’s intensive-care unit yesterday. A statement issued by the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel said that it had checked all of its equipment in April and that it had no previous problem with its equipment in the past. «This particular boiler had been replaced two years ago, is checked every year and its maintenance takes place on a regular basis,» the hotel said. Thomas Cook, the travel operator that organized the trip, said that the hotel had met all health and safety regulations.