Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

United Kingdom woman dies after exposure to Soviet-era nerve agent

SWNS    
     AMESBURY A policeman stands outside the home where the couple were found unconscious SWNS AMESBURY A policeman stands outside the home where the couple were found unconscious
Jay Anderson | 09 July, 2018, 04:11

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of Britain's counter-terror police, said Sturgess' death was "shocking and tragic news".

She had been hospitalised after falling ill on June 30, along with a 45-year-old man, in Amesbury, Wiltshire. He said in a statement, "Dawn leaves behind her family, including three children, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this extremely hard time".

Police had been working to discover how Dawn Sturgess and a 45-year-old man had come across an item contaminated with Novichok, which was developed by the Soviet military during n the Cold War.

There was a scare involving a police officer who was taken to hospital but he was later given the all clear.

A post-mortem examination of Ms Sturgess, from Durrington, is due to take place and her family has been informed, police said.

Police said the investigation "into the attempted murders of the Skripals is ongoing as detectives continue to assess all the evidence available".

On Twitter, Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled and shocked" by Sturgess' death.

"The Government is committed to providing full support to the local community as it deals with this tragedy", she wrote in a second tweet.




The Skripal case, which Metropolitan Police detectives are investigating as attempted murder, sparked a diplomatic crisis between Russian Federation and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides.

Britain's public health authority acknowledged on Friday the concerns of people living in the area after the two incidents involving Novichok, but said it was confident that the risk to the public remained low.

Professor Paul Cosford said: "As a precaution we still advise the public not to pick up any odd items such as needles, syringes or unusual containers". Skripal was discharged from the hospital in May and his daughter was released in April.

Russian authorities denied any involvement.

Police suspect Rowley and Sturgess handled a discarded item from the first attack, though they have not determined for certain that the two cases are linked. Police said there is no evidence that either Sturgess or Rowley visited any of the sites where the Skripals may have been poisoned.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March, 2018.

Police say the nerve agent that sickened Rowley and Sturgess was the same type that nearly killed the Skripals, but scientists haven't been able to tell whether it was from the same batch.

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