United Kingdom police rush to solve Novichok nerve agent death

UK official reassures residents in poisoning case | World

Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, 44, died at Salisbury District Hospital, Scotland Yard said.

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

Both were found unconscious in a home in Amesbury, just 13 kilometres from Salisbury, an English town where four months ago Russian ex-spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia, with same Russian-made nervous agent, were poisoned in a Incident that British government attributed to Moscow.

UK Metropolitan police have launched a murder investigation after a woman died in hospital on Sunday after being exposed to the nerve agent novichok in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

The March attack on the Skripals prompted the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War as allies sided with Britain's view that Moscow was either responsible or had lost control of the nerve agent.

A Kremlin spokesman said linking Russian Federation to the poisonings would be "absurd".

Authorities say Sturgess, along with her boyfriend, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley, became sick after they were exposed to Novichok on June 30. Yulia said that the poisoning had turned her life "upside down" and that she and her father were "lucky to have survived this assassination attempt". Tests showed they were exposed after touching the nerve agent with their hands.

Wiltshire Police constable Kier Pritchard said "today is the day we hoped would never come" as he urged those with questions to speak to officers patrolling the community.

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Luka Modric of Croatia (top) and Dejan Lovren of Croatia celebrate celebrate victory over Russian Federation at the 2018 World Cup .

The nominally retired double agent Sergei Skripal spent several weeks in a coma after being discovered on a bench in Salisbury in March; he eventually recovered enough to be released from the hospital.

But when asked directly if Russian Federation was responsible for the latest poisonings, he said it was hard to see any "other plausible explanation".

Police say they are still following the line of inquiry that the Novichok used in both incidents was from the same batch, but admit they have no evidence to support this as of now.

The hospital's medical director, Dr. Christine Blanshard, said the staff "worked tirelessly to save Dawn".

But it advised against picking up "any odd items such as needles, syringes or unusual containers".

"This activity has centred on Dawn's address at John Baker House, Salisbury, Charlie's address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, and Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury", Mr Basu said.

It is believed that Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley "handled" that container, Mr Basu said.

Novichok, which works by causing a slowing of the heart and restriction of the airways, is one of the world's rarest nerve agents. "However, it is important that the investigation is led by the evidence available and the facts alone".

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