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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 12:51 GMT
Corfu parents' gas safety plea
Robert Shepherd (left) and Christianne Shepherd
Six people in Corfu have been charged over the deaths
The families of two children who died of carbon monoxide poisoning on holiday in Corfu have called for tour operators to tighten up safety procedures.

Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her brother Robert, six, of Horbury, West Yorkshire, were overcome by the gas at their hotel in October.

Paul Wood, husband of Sharon Wood, the children's mother, said their deaths should never have happened.

"We want to stop others dying in the same pointless way," he said.

'Happy and excited'

Mr Wood spoke on behalf of the children's families at a news conference to raise awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He said: "We hope that we can contribute to pushing the multi-million pound holiday industry into providing at least a standard level of safety that will allow all future holidaymakers to be confident they will wake up in the morning and take a breath of fresh air."

Within 10 minutes of getting into bed Christi started crying and being sick
Paul Wood

The children were on a half-term holiday with their father Neil Shepherd and his partner Ruth Beatson, who were also overcome by the gas.

Mr Shepherd, speaking publicly for the first time, said the children complained of feeling unwell during the day of 25 October but seemed to have recovered.

He said: "We all went to bed at about 10.30pm or 10.45pm. We were all happy and excited, looking forward to the rest of the holiday and a boat trip the following day.

"Within 10 minutes of getting into bed Christi started crying and being sick. Ruth and I immediately got up and went to comfort the children.

Parents Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood
The family want extra measures to prevent further tragedies

"Both Ruth and I collapsed and went into a coma. We were discovered by a chamber maid the following morning.

"Christi and Bobby were already dead. Ruth and I were treated at the local hospital and would like to thank the hospital staff for saving our lives."

It is thought the children were killed by fumes from a faulty boiler.

The family said they understood that British tour operators' guidelines state that boilers and other gas installations only have to be inspected once in every three years.

They said that was "simply not good enough", and there should at least be a proper check by a British Corgi-registered fitter every year.

Mr Wood said they also wanted tour company representatives to make carbon monoxide detectors available to holidaymakers.

Six people in Corfu have been charged with manslaughter over the children's deaths, including the hotel director, general manager and maintenance manager.

The news conference marked the start of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and was organised by a series of charities and campaigners including the Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society (CO-Gas Safety).

It heard from other families of victims, including Paul Overton, of Lymington, Hampshire, father of 11-year-old Katie, who died in 2003 in a rented home in Portsmouth after she was overwhelmed by fumes from a gas boiler.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The children's father describes the night before they died



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