Published: Thu, July 05, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Man and woman critical after being exposed to 'mystery substance' identified

Man and woman critical after being exposed to 'mystery substance' identified

It's 13 kilometres from Salisbury, where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned on March 4.

The woman, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, was found foaming at the mouth, and the man, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley, was sweating, dribbling and making weird noises, according to the BBC.

Britain accused Russian Federation of poisoning Skripal with Novichok nerve agent, the first known offensive use of such a chemical weapon on European soil since the second world war.

Counter-terrorism police are now leading the investigation into the incident after tests at the Porton Down defence laboratory confirmed the nature of the substance, which Britain says is a Soviet-made military grade nerve agent.

"We're satisfied that if anyone was exposed to that level of nerve agent by now they would be showing symptoms", he said.

PA Wire/PA Images A police officer stands outside a block of apartments on Muggleton Road in Amesbury, Wiltshire, where a major incident has been declared after it was suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance.

Public Health England said it did not believe there was a "significant health risk" to the people in the area.

Police said officers were initially called Saturday morning about a collapsed woman, then were summoned back in the evening after a man fell ill at the same property. The new victims are both critically ill in the same hospital that treated the Skripals.

The poisoning has prompted a "major incident" to be declared in Wiltshire and United Kingdom counter-terrorism police are now leading the investigation into the dramatic attack.

The statement from Wiltshire Police came only a month after police from 40 departments in England and Wales returned home after months of working on the Skripals' poisoning.

Tensions in UK-Russian relations escalated after the British government alleged that Russia was behind the attempted assassination - accusations that Moscow has vigorously denied.

A Russian Embassy on Thursday called it "dumb" to suggest that the country was responsible for two more British nationals being afflicted by the same nerve agent that felled an ex-Russian agent earlier this year.

Testing is ongoing while various places the pair visited in Amesbury and Salisbury, which sits about 10 miles away, have been sealed off with police tape.

Church secretary Roy Collins said: "Last weekend we held a community fundraiser and we understand this may well be the last event this couple went to in public".

The Wiltshire police said it was not yet known if the two were the victims of a crime.

The case is eerily similar to that of Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter, Yulia, who are still recovering after lengthy treatment.

A Boots pharmacy in the town center was also cordoned off, with police at the entrance telling CNN it was closed "as a precaution".

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