Amesbury novichok investigation could "take months to complete"

08 July, 2018, 01:35 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Police officers are seen outside Amesbury Baptist Centre in Amesbury nine miles north of Salisbury southern England

Both victims are British nationals, Wiltshire police deputy chief Const. Paul Mills said earlier in the day.

"We have cornered off a number of sites in the Amesbury and Salisbury areas that we believe the two individuals visited in the period before they fell ill".

Police have been unable to locate the source of the contamination and have warned that they can not rule out more people falling ill.

Police said there was no evidence the latest victims had visited any of the sites linked to the Skripals, which have since been decontaminated.

Police said they could not rule out more people falling ill as a result of contact with the nerve agent apparently left over from the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

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Investigators wearing camouflage protective clothing entered the John Baker House assisted-living accommodation in Salisbury, where Ms Sturgess lives, after they took a sample from the outside of the building on Friday.

The Swindon Advertiser reported tonight that the patient had now been moved to Salisbury District Hospital.

However, other experts say the nerve agent was created to be persistent and not break down.

The building is a short distance away from numerous sites closed to the public after the attempted murder of a former Russian spy with the nerve agent in March.

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia for spying for the United Kingdom, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, England. Prime Minister Theresa May blamed Russian Federation for the nerve agent assault against the Skripals.

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The British government eventually moved to expel Russian diplomats, and Russia, which insists it is not to blame in the Skripal case, retaliated and kicked out dozens of British officials.

"It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns, to be dumping grounds for poison", he said.

"How dumb they think [Russia] is to use "again" so-called "Novichok" in the middle of the FIFA World Cup and after the special session of the CSP...", the tweet reads. "And it will be vital to trace the movements of this couple to identify where they might have come into contact with the source", he said.

Russian officials have also insisted that Novichok agents are not stable and degrade quickly, meaning there would be minimal risk of detection by British authorities or exposure weeks after the incident-though Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston toxicologist Peter Chai told the Verge such agents are "really oily so they persist in the environment".

Basu said they could not confirm whether the nerve agent came from the same batch but that the possibility was "clearly a line of inquiry".

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The Soviet Union first developed Novichok agents, which are believed to be much more powerful than more famous chemical weapons like VX and sarin, in the 1970s and 1980s.

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