A six-year-old girl suffered burns and was “chlorine gassed” in a poorly maintained swimming pool at a Thomas Cook hotel, it is claimed.
Dr John Wheeler, who is himself a forensics expert, has accused Thomas Cook of safety blunders which he says have led to his daughter’s injuries.
Isabelle, six, burned her feet, hands and knees at the Pefkos Beach Hotel, Rhodes. The youngster also “coughed violently” and developed painful blisters.
Her angry dad, whose PhD is in chemistry, has shared video believed to allege chlorine was added directly to the childrens’ pool at the plush resort.
And his wife Francine, 45, posted online: “So, with what I believe is sufficient time to allow Thomas Cook to commence their investigations, I have decided to share a video in the photos below of the hotel worker throwing chemicals (likely to be calcium hypochlorite) into one of the pools.
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“Isabelle was crying out after a coughing fit and her distress can be heard clearly in the video which was taken two days after we had reported the incident.”
The family, from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, flew home on July 20. They’ve since complained to the large travel company.
“This is my daughter, she is 6 years old. We took a family holiday to Rhodes. Everyday she wanted to play in the paddling pool and we had no idea it was making her ill. Below is photographic evidence of chlorine burns on Isabelle’s knees, hands and feet. Unfortunately we didn’t realise this at the time, we assumed that was caused by kneeling in the pool,” Francine wrote.
“We also thought that her constant tiredness was caused by the heat. Nobody is talking to us despite the fact that we’ve submitted a comprehensive report with photographic and medical evidence. Not even a query to check that she is okay.”
Dr Wheeler, Associate Dean of the school of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University, has sent a lengthy statement to Thomas Cook.
The dad-of-two stated the white powder seen being poured into the water may have been Calcium Hypochlorite, used commonly as a bleaching agent.
The statement reads: “It was observed that, each evening at around 7pm, an operative would cast scoopfuls of chemicals, most likely to be Calcium Hypochlorite, directly into the water of each pool.
“It would be more normal practice to introduce these chemicals through the filtration and pump system for the pools to avoid potential contact with public areas.
“Treating the ‘small’ pool by adding this material directly is especially inappropriate and led to the injuries described above and herein.”
He added: “The chemicals were observed to sink through the water, which was only 40cm deep, and sit on the bottom of the pool without dissolving or dispersing.
“This was still present the following morning when children entered the pool, who then stood, kneeled and crawled directly on the corrosive chemicals thus causing the burns and pain experienced.
“In addition, the dissolution of the chemicals brought about by the children stirring up the water also resulted in the release of chlorine gas that was then breathed in directly by the same children, and led to the respiratory issues.”
Speaking today, Francine said: “The only reason this came to light is because my husband is a Doctor of Chemistry and observed the methodology used to clean the pool.
“As you might imagine it has been an horrendous ordeal for my daughter and our family.”
A medical report conducted at Silverdale Village surgery in Newcastle by Dr A S Khan on August 4 states “reaction to chlorine” as the diagnosis for Isabelle’s injuries.
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: “Our customers’ safety is always our first priority and we take all reports of injury very seriously.
“Initial tests carried out by the Pefkos Beach Hotel showed normal water levels but as a precautionary measure we requested that the pool be emptied and deep cleaned.
“We are very sorry for the concern this must have caused the Wheeler family and our team are contacting them so that we can look into what happened further.”