U.K. Opens Murder Probe After Woman Exposed to Nerve Agent Dies

11 July, 2018, 02:53 | Author: Carlos George
  • Sturgess

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died Sunday after being exposed to Novichok - the agent that poisoned Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal in March.

Salisbury District Hospital treated Sturgess and Rowley.

Her family has been informed and is receiving support from specially trained family liaison officers, the Met said, adding that a post-mortem is scheduled to take place in "due course".

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled and shocked", and announced a murder investigation. For its part, Russian government officials have denied all involvement, while at least some British officials have urged caution in attributing blame. Moscow has rejected the accusations and has hit back by expelling Western diplomats.

The next day Britain's interior minister Sajid Javid says Moscow needs to explain itself over the use of the toxic agent. Rowley, 45, remains in critical condition.

In April, the watchdog group Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released a report confirming that Novichok was used in the Skripals' attack.

United Kingdom and other Western officials have blamed Russian Federation for carrying out the attack on the Skripals - a charge that Moscow has denied.

A British woman exposed to a nerve agent just over a week ago has died in the hospital.

Residents of the homeless hostel in Salisbury where Sturgess lived, which was evacuated after the couple fell ill, expressed their devastation at the news of her death.

The Britons were initially thought to have taken an overdose of heroin or crack cocaine.

But tests by the Porton Down military research centre showed they had been exposed to Novichok.

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British police told Reuters they believe Sturgess and partner Charlie Rowley handled an item contaminated with the Novichok nerve agent poison this weekend.

"We hope that the circumstances of her poisoning will be investigated in good faith and in accordance with high global standards, and the perpetrators will be brought to justice", the embassy said in a statement on Monday.

On Monday, however, Peskov said the Wiltshire poisoning had "nothing to do with the summit" between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in Finland. Ms Sturgess has since died in hospital.

Former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on Mar 4.

A representative from Salisbury district hospital said staff "worked tirelessly to save Dawn".

"However, if there is anyone who saw them or met with them who we haven't already spoken to, I would urge them to contact police on 0800 789 321". Wiltshire police said that all had been assessed, screened and discharged.

"The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this was shocking", she said.

Following the death, there are growing fears of a wider risk to public health in the region but Public Health England stressed the risk to the general public "remains low".

More than 100 police officers have been working to locate a small vial or other container thought to have held the nerve agent that sickened the two.

In Sunday's statement, police said there was no evidence Sturgess and Rowley visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempt against the Skripals.

Per CNN, authorities now believe that Sturgess and Rowley came into contact with a contaminated item via their hands, but now lack the ability to determine whether the poison is from the same batch that the Skripals ingested.

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