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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Family tribute for Corfu children
Bungalow in Gouvia
The two adults remain seriously ill in hospital on the island
Two British children feared to have died from poisoning during a Greek holiday have been described as "gorgeous" by family members.

Officials are still investigating how Robert Shepherd, six, and sister Christianne, seven, died.

Their father, Neil Shepherd and his partner, Ruth Beatson, both of W Yorks, remain seriously ill in Corfu.

Ms Beatson's mother, Helen, said: "They were gorgeous children. That's all we want to say."

Her father, Stephen, told reporters the family had "absolutely no idea what had happened".

The pair flew to the Greek island on Friday to be at their daughter's bedside.

After they arrived, 27-year-old Ms Beatson regained consciousness and managed to smile - although she has not yet spoken to anyone.

Mr Shepherd, 38, who is separated from the children's biological mother, was understood to have improved slightly overnight.

Gas leak probe

On Thursday morning, a cleaner at the hotel in the village of Gouvia discovered the two children dead in their room, and Ms Beatson and Mr Shepherd unconscious.

The couple, from Horbury near Wakefield, were thought to be in a coma and were taken to Corfu General Hospital.

Corfu map

Officials are investigating whether the family could have been poisoned by a gas leak or by something they ate.

Police said engineers would be checking the installation of air conditioning and boiler systems at the hotel on Friday afternoon.

A pathologist at the hospital told reporters that he suspected the family had ingested a "powerful poison".

Toxicology tests were taken and post-mortem examinations were being carried out on Friday, with the results expected in two weeks' time.

'Woozy' complaints

The children lived with their biological mother in Horbury. She flew out to the island with her new husband on Thursday when they were told of the deaths.

The family had been taking a week's holiday for the school half-term break. They stayed at the Louis Corcyra hotel in Gouvia - a small fishing village near Corfu town which is considered an upmarket destination.

Bungalow in Gouvia
The hotel says no other guests have been taken ill

Thomas Cook, the company they were travelling with, said it was working closely with the hospital and the police to gain further information and to support the family.

BBC correspondent Luisa Baldini said Britons at the hotel had been queuing up to buy British newspapers to try to find out what has been happening.

A pile of children's clothes remained outside the family's holiday bungalow, she added.

Guests at the hotel told how they recalled seeing Robert collapse at breakfast on Wednesday, and that the family had complained of feeling "woozy".

But the Louis Corcyra strongly denied any possibility of food poisoning at the hotel, saying none of the other guests was taken ill.

Last year 100,000 British tourists visited Corfu. Travel specialists say the deaths will have a big impact on the island.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Greece
21 Aug 06 |  Country profiles

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