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Mum Calls For Answers To Chemical Burns Riddle Which Affected 42 British Holidaymakers

Holidaymakers Injured In Corfu


The mother of two children who suffered severe chemical burns from the pool at a five-star hotel in Corfu has today spoken of her frustration at still not knowing why it happened, following settlement of her claim with tour operator Thomas Cook.

Susan Austin and her family were among 42 Britons who have taken legal action against their tour operators after staying at the Mitsis Roda Beach Hotel in July 2007.  33 of them suffered agonising burns after swimming pools were apparently topped up with unknown chemicals. 

Mrs Austin’s sons Sam (now 15) and Ben (now 12), from Billericay in Essex, developed agonising rashes on their legs, arms, back and genitals after taking to the pool on the first day of their holiday. Susan and her partner Lee Sanders also developed such severe soreness that they were unable to even put clothes on or leave their hotel room. However they still have not been told what caused their symptoms.

“For two nights my children were crying in agony and could barely walk, they were so badly burnt,” Ms Austin said. “To this day we have not received satisfactory answers or explanations. Our family holiday was completely ruined. We, along with many others, want to know what exactly happened with the pool and what our children have been subjected to.”

Despite the amount of people showing signs of chemical burning, no warnings were given from staff and the pool remained open and continued to be treated with large amounts of unknown chemicals on a daily basis. 

“When I realised we were not the only family affected, I approached the hotel manager. He told me that, despite 100 children having been affected, the pool was safe to use as long as you showered before and after bathing”, Mrs Austin explained.

The hotel doctor advised them to stay out of the water for a couple of days and eventually he admitted that her family were suffering from burns caused by the levels of chemicals in the pools.

Travel law specialists at Irwin Mitchell have now reached a settlement for 42 holidaymakers who stayed at the hotel, 33 of whom suffered chemical burning. Some settlements were made with tour operators other than Thomas Cook.

The family’s lawyer, Jenny Brooks from travel law specialist Irwin Mitchell, said “Clearly something went badly wrong with the swimming pool at this hotel although we still don't know the precise reason why.  As well as dealing with claims on behalf of 42 clients at the Mitsis Roda Beach hotel we have previously acted for a number of other clients who sustained chemical burns in swimming pools at other hotels. 

“Often these injuries are caused because of inappropriate cleaning methods, too high a concentration of chemicals used in the pool or faulty pool filtration plants.  Although clear guidelines on swimming pool safety exist in the UK and many other parts of the world, sadly these are not always followed and this can lead to problems including chemical burns or outbreaks of serious illness.

“Hotel owners and tour operators have a duty to often take adequate steps to ensure pool safety, but all too often we are instructed to help clients who have suffered injuries when things are not done correctly. Clearly more needs to be done to ensure good practice is consistently applied and British tour operators are best placed to ensure that this happens.

“While we are pleased to have reached settlement in these cases, the fact that the hotel management refused to close or drain the pool and failed to take their customers’ complaints seriously enough is a cause of great very concern. We hope that the lessons from are learned from this incident so that others do not have to go through the pain and upset that our clients had to endure at the Mitsis Roda Beach hotel.”