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10 June 2010 - Gas Cookers

Cookers blamed for 6 deaths

POPULAR gas cookers have been blamed for SIX deaths in EIGHT weeks, a News of the World investigation can reveal.

The tragedies happened when grills were alight but their doors had been shut – against maker’s instructions – leading to a build up of poisonous carbon monoxide gas.

The design flaw involves 17 models from Beko and Glen Dimplex – some sold by major suppliers including Comet, Currys and Dixons.

There are 49,000 of these cookers in the UK and Ireland, whose users are potentially at risk of silent death from the odourless gas. All the affected Leisure, Flavel, New World and Belling models – with a price range of £200 to £900 – were made in the same factory in Bolu, Turkey.

The deaths happened between November 26 last year and January 22.

Angry

The estranged wife of a man who died with his partner on Christmas Day blasted the cookers. Patricia Roots, 56, whose dad-of-three husband David, 55, died with Zoe O’Kelly, 53, said: “I’m very angry that something like that is allowed to be manufactured and put in a person’s home.

“Some people can’t read instructions – any child could go into a kitchen and close the grill.”

This week mid-Kent and Medway Coroner Roger Sykes heard changes to the cooker would have prevented the accidental deaths.

The tragedy followed another double death in Doncaster, South Yorks.

Leonard Green found parents Boris, 78, and Vilma, 80, dead in their armchairs, with their pet poodle. Mr Green, 60, revealed the couple died cooking meat brought by one of their devoted grandchildren.

An inquest into their deaths was adjourned. But a Health and Safety Executive report seen by the News of the World confirms the grill was the cause. A source said: “This is a matter of deep concern for both companies – but should be a greater worry for owners of these cookers.

“The rules say the manufacturers are covered because the instruction manuals say to keep the grill doors open. But how many people have read the instructions for the cooker they used to make dinner last night?

“Many people, like students, inherit gas cookers without a manual when they move into rented furnished flats, or if the cookers are bought second hand. It’s horrifying that such a simple error as leaving a door closed can have such fatal consequences. It is so obviously a design flaw.”

Two other tragedies happened in Ireland. One, in Belfast, involved a Beko machine. The other, in County Cork, in which a 21-year-old student died, involved a Glen Dimplex.

Seal

Bosses have since changed the design on new models. Engineers removed a seal on the inside of the grill door to ensure enough air can be drawn through, even with the door shut.

A Beko spokesman said it will send engineers free of charge to upgrade their cookers. He added: “We have been made aware that up to six deaths are being investigated which may be related to these products and were surprised and saddened.”

Glen Dimplex declined to comment on the fatalities. A spokesman said: “We must state clearly that if the appliances are operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, they are perfectly safe.”

Owners of Beko cookers affected should call: 0800 342 3049 or visit www.leisurecp.co.uk or www.beko.co.uk . Those with Glen Dimplex models should call: 0800 294 3128.

How poison gas builds up

WHEN the grill door is shut while the grill is on, a shortage of ventilation means not enough oxygen is available to mix with the gas and help it burn efficiently.

Potentially fatal quantities of carbon monoxide – a bi-product of the inefficient burning – build up and enter the air nearby.

When it is inhaled, the colourless and odourless gas can kill in just two minutes.

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