Sunday, 22 July, 2018

United Kingdom mother poisoned with nerve agent Novichok dies

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono prior to their breakfast meeting in Tokyo Japan on Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono prior to their breakfast meeting in Tokyo Japan on Sunday
Jeannette Daniel | 12 July, 2018, 02:51

Last week, United Kingdom officials said the nerve agent used against the couple in Amesbury was of the same variety as the toxin used against the Skripals, but it was not clear if the substance came from the same batch.

After examination, doctors of the District Hospital in Salisbury concluded that the police officer, who had allegedly been poisoned with a nerve paralytic agent, does not have signs of poisoning.

Authorities say Sturgess, along with her boyfriend, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley, became sick after they were exposed to Novichok on June 30.

British police on Monday said they could not rule out further contaminations after a 44-year-old mother of three died in southwest England following exposure to the nerve agent Novichok.

"This is shocking and tragic news. Dawn leaves behind her family, including three children, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this extremely hard time", said Neil Basu, assistant commissioner and head of UK Counter Terrorism policing.

Tributes have flowed on social media, where Facebook friend Martin Bond described Sturgess as "a mother of a attractive daughter & a Good (sic) person".

The hospital's medical director, Christine Blanshard, told the BBC that hospital staff worked tirelessly to save Sturgess. "They did everything they could". He had also fallen ill and was taken to the hospital.

A murder investigation was launched last night following the mum of three's death.

Salisbury District Hospital also treated Mr Skripal, 67, his daughter Yulia, 33, as well as police officer Nick Bailey, who fell ill after he came to assist them.

One line of inquiry suggests that after the Skripals were attacked by the nerve agent, the assailants disposed of vials, ampules or a mixing kit - or some other contaminated items - and that Rowley and Sturgess found the material and were accidentally exposed.

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The Metropolitan Police said: "Due to the unique challenges involved with this operation, police activity is expected to take weeks and months to complete".

Britain's top counter-terrorism officer said on Monday that detectives were unable to say if the Novichok that two Britons were exposed to was the same that struck down a former Russian double agent and his daughter.

Incident response vehicles and fire engines joined police at his Amesbury home.

The police are working to ensure that her family have all the necessary support that they need at this extremely hard time.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal have both recovered since a probe opened into their poisoning in March.

The British government blamed Russia for the attack against the Skripals, and senior British officials said such an assault would not have been carried out without Russian President Vladimir Putin's knowledge. Police said she was exposed to the chemical last weekend, absorbing it through her hands.

Novichok, which works by causing a slowing of the heart and restriction of the airways, is one of the world's rarest nerve agents.

British Prime Minister Theresa May demanded that the Russian government explain how a nerve agent it had developed during the Cold War had ended up on British soil.

Police warn police cordons are likely to remain in the place for a considerable period of time for the "public's safety" and to allow officers to gather crucial investigation.

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