British police have confirmed the couple identified locally as Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley who were taken ill on Saturday were poisoned with the Cold-War era, Soviet-produced Novichok nerve agent.
The pair, both in their mid-40s and reportedly with no political background to suggest they may have been deliberately targeted in an attack, are at the centre of the second apparent Novichock nerve agent incident in the United Kingdom in four months.
Speaking to journalists, Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police said he had received test results from the British chemical weapons research establishment at the Porton Down laboratory which confirmed the two victims, who have not been formally identified, were “exposed to the nerve agent Novichok”.
It is not clear how this might have happened, and no contaminated objects have yet been found. It is not known whether the Novichok, in this case, is from the same incident as March, but police are treating that as a possibility.
UPDATE: Samples have been sent to chemical weapons research establishment Porton Down and counter terror police are investigating after two people collapsed in Amesbury following exposure to an "unknown substance" https://t.co/csibfiKUjS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 4, 2018
Police initially believed the pair had taken contaminated drugs, however, the symptoms presented caused deeper concern. Both remain in critical condition, and counter-terror police have joined the investigation.
If the Amesbury incident transpires to be linked to the Salisbury attack — the towns are less than ten miles apart and the latest victims are reported to have visited Salisbury shortly before falling ill — it could be a hard blow for the credibility of the government, which reassured the public in March that the risk from further contamination was low.
Breitbart London reported in March over public anger at the British government’s “diabolical” slow reaction to the chemical attack in Salisbury, after it took a whole week for officials to advise people who had frequented areas that may have been contaminated to wash their clothes, shoes, and handbags. The manager of a local shop said at the time: “The way the public has been kept in the dark is diabolical.
Public Anger at ‘Diabolical’ Response as Authorities Only Admit Risk to Public Days After Salisbury Attack https://t.co/lnR6hDNLEm
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 12, 2018
“They knew on Tuesday that it was serious enough to shut those places down yet they didn’t give a warning about washing your clothes until a week later . . . What are the authorities going to say to the parents of a young child who is contaminated with nerve gas because they were in Zizzi or The Mill last Sunday?”
In the latest case, it took over four days for the authorities to identify the nerve agent responsible for the latest hospitalisations. Public Health England maintains there is not a “significant health risk to the wider public”.