Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Woman dies, five ill as gardai probe gas leak at hotel

A young woman died and five others were hospitalised after a suspected gas leak at a popular four-star hotel.

Miriam Reidy (35) was discovered unconscious at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale, Co Cork, at lunchtime yesterday by her horrified sister, Patricia.

Her sister, with whom she had been attending a hen party in the Cork town, desperately tried to revive Miriam after discovering her unresponsive in a hotel bedroom.

Patricia then fell ill herself.

Miriam, from Lisloose, Tralee, Co Kerry, was later pronounced dead at the scene, while Patricia was rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) and was being treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

The bride-to-be -- whose hen night was being celebrated -- was named locally as Marie Reidy, a first cousin of the dead woman.

The tragedy occurred just 12 hours after the women -- including friends, relatives and neighbours of the bride -- had enjoyed a social night out in Kinsale.

A total of five people ultimately fell ill from the effects the gas.

Three women were transferred to CUH for assessment and treatment.

Two other people -- also hotel guests -- later presented themselves at the Mercy University Hospital for treatment after falling ill.

Four of the five were expected to be discharged last night.

Trident Hotel manager, Hal McElroy, last night said staff were in shock over the tragedy.

"We are all devastated and shocked at the misfortunate incident that occurred in our hotel today. Firstly our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who have been affected by this," he told the Irish Independent.

"As there are garda and Health and Safety Authority investigations under way, we are not in a position to comment further on the actual incident, but are co-operating fully with the investigations.

"Our immediate concern is to ensure that all guests and staff are safe and looked after. Guests and staff have been checked by the HSE medical team, who were on site at the hotel this afternoon.

"While the investigation is being carried out, the hotel has been temporarily evacuated. All guests have been accommodated locally," he added.

The women were in Kinsale as part of a hen party and were staying in two hotels locally, including the Trident.

Gardai were notified and immediately sealed off the area pending a full forensic examination.

A full post-mortem examination and related toxicology tests are scheduled to be conducted today at CUH.

Sections of the hotel including its restaurant were evacuated as Cork fire brigade officials, some equipped with breathing apparatus, conducted a detailed inspection of the area.

Gardai also notified the Health and Safety Authority of the incident, and a full probe will now be conducted.

Engineers were scheduled to attend the scene last night to determine if, in fact, there had been a leak or a build-up of gas. Propane cylinders outside the hotel were being checked together with all gas lines and ventilation systems to the hotel.

The investigation was initially focused on whether the accident involved the gas, carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, tasteless and invisible gas, which is heavier than air -- and is exceptionally dangerous if allowed to build up in confined or air-tight spaces.

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