Published: Fri, July 06, 2018

Kremlin 'Categorically' Denying Involvement in Second Suspected Novichok Poisoning

Kremlin 'Categorically' Denying Involvement in Second Suspected Novichok Poisoning

The pair, a local 44-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man, were hospitalised after being found unwell on Saturday in Amesbury, just miles away from Salisbury where ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were attacked in March.

Two people are critically ill in hospital after suspected exposure to an "unknown substance" near the English town where a former Russian spy was poisoned with a nerve agent, officials said on Wednesday.

Flanked by the chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, and amid speculation the British couple had been struck down by sites still contaminated after the attempted assassination of the Skripals, Basu said: "I do want to reassure the public, however, that there is no evidence that either the man or woman recently visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal".

Russian Federation denied involvement in the first attack.

Vil Mirzayanov, a Soviet scientist who worked on the development of Novichok before defecting to the United States, said that if the Amesbury couple were infected by material left over from the Skripals incident, it is unlikely the agent was exposed to the elements because it retained enough potency to cause harm.

Peskov said Russian Federation was anxious by the most recent attacks and was unaware of any requests to investigate the latest incident, Reuters reported.

His remarks come as Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fight for their lives in hospital after they were exposed to the chemical weapon Novichok.

But the exposure of two British citizens to such a risky nerve agent will stoke fears that Novichok could be lingering at sites around the ancient English city of Salisbury.

Amesbury is about 12 kms from Salisbury, where the Skripals were found slumped on a bench in March in an incident that sparked a bitter diplomatic crisis with Russian Federation.

"To use a persistent nerve agent in a civilian area is extraordinary, it's a war crime, it's an absolutely vile act of terror that is being conducted by a state that claims to be a normal state", he told the BBC.

Both patients were being treated at Salisbury District Hospital, which remained "open as usual", police said. They returned later in the day when Rowley also fell ill.

Javid said on Thursday (Friday NZT) the nerve agent involved in the current case was the same variety as that used against Skripal and his daughter, but it's not clear whether the two samples came from the same batch.

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said Tuesday that, "based upon the number of casualties affected, is that it is not believed that there is a significant health risk to the wider public".

"That means that if a container or a surface was contaminated with this material, it would remain a danger for a long time".

Officers are wearing protective equipment while carrying out investigative procedures. They may return, police said.

Moscow hit back by expelling Western diplomats, questioning how Britain could know that Russian Federation was responsible and offering rival interpretations, including that it amounted to a plot by British secret services.

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