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SCANDAL OF KILLER E-COLI BUG AT BRITS' IBIZA HOTEL; Hols firm warned by a doctor 6 weeks ago.

Emma Henderson lies in an Ibiza hospital bed, the pain etched clearly on her young face.

Closer to home, in a hospital in the north of England, 21-month-old Lee- Ann Waterhouse fights back the tears as waves of nausea and pain sweep her body.

The two little girls have both been struck down by similar viruses after staying at the Presidente Playa in Portinatx, Ibiza - the hotel at the centre of a salmonella and E-coli scare.

Now The Mirror can reveal that holiday firm Thomsons had been warned that the Presidente Playa had horrendous health problems - but continued to send hundreds of unsuspecting British families there.

And the UK's biggest tour operator went on sending families there until a salmonella outbreak finally forced them to evacuate ALL British guests seven days ago.

Fifty people went down with the bug, with at least 11 needing hospital treatment.

On Monday, the Mirror revealed a shocking dossier of health problems at the Presidente, stretching back over ELEVEN years.

Yesterday the latest angry victims claimed many more had fallen ill this summer - and that Thomsons had been warned that the hotel was potentially lethal.

When Alan Denman, 35, of Sheffield, contracted both salmonella and E- Coli his doctor wrote to the travel firm on June 6.

The doctor warned Thomsons that "significant pathogens" found in Mr Denman "could represent a major breakdown of hygiene at the place where they were eating."

Mr Denman says other holidaymakers at the 270-bed, three-star complex were "dropping like flies".

Other guests claimed Thomsons tried to "cover up" the problem.

THEY said on-the-spot compensation payments were offered by Thomsons reps - so long as guests signed disclaimer forms "in full and final settlement".

Eventually, Thomsons were forced to act - and more than 350 Brits were evacuated from the hotel last week after another outbreak of suspected salmonella.

Meanwhile, the victims are counting the cost of their holiday at Presidente Playa.

CASE ONE: Jonathan Brennan, aged seven, went down with E-coli just as his family were about to fly home.

He was rushed into hospital in Ibiza before his worried parents decided to take him home - where he lost a quarter of his body weight because he was so ill.

When Jonathan's illness was identified as E-coli, his dad David alerted Thomsons - but the hotel stayed open for business.

The Brennans, of Southsea, Hants, are seeking compensation.

CASE TWO: Paul Waterhouse's three young children were hit by salmonella within days of arriving at the Presidente. He was so concerned about nine- month-old Shannon he decided to fly home early - despite being told by Thomsons reps that he would have to pay for the flight himself.

When they got back, all three were rushed into hospital and put on an isolation ward.

SALES rep Paul, 31, of Bolton, also went down with salmonella and was allowed to visit his children only on condition he went nowhere else in the hospital.

Little Lee-Ann was back in Bolton Royal Infirmary with a virus this week which the family blame on the illness she contracted on holiday.

CASE THREE: The Bradshaw family, of Latimer, Northants, were struck down at the end of their holiday. Back in Britain, tests found Martin and his sons Jodie, 10, and 13-year-old Jamie had salmonella - and their local environmental health department was notified.

CASE FOUR: Six days after being evacuated from the hotel, seven-year- old Emma Henderson was being treated with an intravenous drip and medication in Ibiza.

Her distraught mum, Lorraine, 38, a schoolteacher from Glasgow, said: "I don't know if it's salmonella, or even E-coli. No one's telling us anything.

"We don't even know when she'll be well enough to fly home."

Her husband Alan and nine-year-old son Craig had both been confined to their room by vomiting and diarrhoea.

The holiday company picked up the tab for Emma's treatment at the plush private hospital in Ibiza Town. But the Hendersons are furious at being sent to a hotel with a long history of health problems.

Thomsons last night confirmed that 50 holidaymakers had gone down with suspected salmonella since last Thursday.

A spokeswoman said at least 11 had received hospital treatment. She stressed that the company would not be using the hotel again until it was given a "clean bill of health".

She added: "We were aware of the incidence of E-coli earlier this year after receiving information from Mr Denman and the Brennan family.

"We immediately asked local health inspectors to investigate, but they found no evidence of any problem other than four food handlers with the cold virus."

Thomsons denied they were aware of any "serious problems" earlier in the summer.

They said eight families had complained on their return from Ibiza, but the problem was not considered serious enough to close the hotel until last Thursday when 20 fell ill overnight.

The spokeswoman added that any compensation paid in the resort did not preclude further claims in medical cases.

The company did, however, make an effort to sort out any problems while holidaymakers were still in the resort.

For the moment, the Presidente Playa is virtually empty.

Only a few Germans are still there - they were told of the food poisoning outbreak, but elected to stay on anyway.

ANYONE booked to stay at the Presidente this summer, but wants to move to another hotel should the Presidente re-open, should contact Thomsons Customer Services.

MANAGER SAYS

WHAT CRISIS?

Presidente Playa manager, Narciso Gonzalo Mozo, replied to the Mirror's concerns by saying: "What health problems? Do we have a problem?"

Mr Gonzalo Mozo, who has been the hotel's manager for just two months, admitted that outside caterers were now feeding the remaining 70 guests.

"We hope to re-open the kitchens in a couple of days," he says. "Thomson took guests away but we hope to do business with them again."

Anne Harvey, of the Consumer Association's Which? magazine, said it was up to tour operators to take responsibility for protecting customers.

She said: "We would be very concerned if a tour operator was aware of pre-existing problems and hadn't pulled the plug."
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 26, 1997
Words:1016
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