UK Police Probe New Chemical Case, Same Used On Ex-Russian Spy

Another suspected poisoning puts Britain on edge

Another suspected poisoning puts Britain on edge

Two people in Amesbury, England, have been poisoned by the same nerve agent that almost killed a former Russian spy and his daughter earlier this year.

Amesbury is located just seven miles from Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by the nerve agent in March.

A 44-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man, identified as Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, were found unconscious in their home in Amesbury on June 30.

"We are working with the police to understand the circumstances surrounding this incident and it would be inappropriate to make further comment at this time, while we establish how they became unwell", said Cara Charles-Barks, the hospital's chief executive.

"It is rather scary", a local resident told AFP, as he walked by the canal. They are also extremely potent, with the survival of those exposed beyond the short term suggesting the agents were either low quality or haphazardly administered. "It is something different, it could be on that makes me anxious".

He did not argue that the nerve agent was from the same batch that was allegedly used in March to poison former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia but did not rule out any connection between these incidents.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in either incident. "It is now time that the Russian state comes forward and explains exactly what has gone on", he said. He said it was "completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets", and warned about towns in the United Kingdom becoming "dumping grounds" for nerve agents.

"Instead of genuine co-operation, London is doing everything possible to muddy the waters, to confuse and frighten its own citizens".

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"Russia has categorically denied and continues to categorically deny the possibility of any kind of involvement to what was happening there", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Thursday. He said: "The eyes of the world are now on Russian Federation, not least because of the World Cup".

In both cases, the poison believed to have been used is a Novichok agent, a group of chemical weapon substances developed by the Soviet Union during the 1970s.

The poisoning of the Skripals sparked a diplomatic row as the United Kingdom said some evidence in the Skripal case suggested the attack was carried out at the behest of Russia, and British media reported in April that the agent was traced to a Russian military facility.

Leeds University toxicology expert Alastair Hay, said police were likely to be looking for a glass container as that would be the safest way to transport such a corrosive substance.

It is possible that the couple from Amesbury stumbled across a risky amount of the nerve agent, maybe on instruments used in that initial attack.

Police declared a major incident on Wednesday after Sturgess and then Rowley collapsed last Saturday.

Instead, there will have to be a laborious physical search of suspected sites.

Toxicologists say that the first days after a poisoning are a crucial threshold for survival, as the body struggles to resynthesize an enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, which is inhibited by nerve agents.

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