Police search intensifies after couple poisoned with Novichok


Skripal - a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign spy service - and his daughter Yulia were found slumped unconscious on a park bench.

The Skripal poisoning resulted in a mass expulsion of Russian diplomats from the United Kingdom, USA and allied countries, despite the Kremlin's insistence that it did not try to poison the ex-spy.

A police officer is in hospital in the United Kingdom amid concerns of possible exposure to the Novichok nerve agent.

"Meticulous and systematic searches are under way at a number of sites".

Health officials advise anyone who visited the cordoned-off sites between 10pm on Friday and 6.30pm on Saturday to wash any clothes and clean any other items they had with them as a precaution.

Detectives have cordoned off several sites in Amesbury and Salisbury as they search for the source of the contamination.

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"We have said they can come and tell us what happened".

The emergency department at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon where the officer initially attended had been closed but reopened at about 22:00 BST. He said 100 officers had been assigned to the case. "We understand that Novichoks were created to last for months, so four months down the line, is obviously still toxic".

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

British officials blamed the Skripals' poisoning on Russian Federation.

Wallace said the Russian government could "put this wrong right" by providing details about the Skripal poisoning.

"So the idea that the police weren't ready for that is really hardly surprising, it would be a bit much to expect the constabulary to be ready for it or indeed to expect the local authority to be entirely able to clean up after it".

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In a blistering attack in the Commons, Mr Javid demanded that the Kremlin provide an explanation for the two episodes. And the British government owed Russian Federation an apology, she said.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament on Thursday that it's time for Russian Federation to explain "exactly what has gone on".

But Russia quickly hit back, denouncing Britain for playing "dirty political games", trying to "muddy the waters" and "frighten its own citizens". The new victims were found in Amesbury, England, just a few miles from the scene of the alleged assassination attempt in March, and officials now believe they are likely secondary, unintended victims of that attack.

Mr Rowley's residence, where the couple fell ill, also had a heavy operational presence. They may have picked up the contaminated object in Queen Elizabeth Gardens, where they relaxed that afternoon before returning to Sturgess' room at the shelter and then to Rowley's apartment. He says both were taken to hospital on Saturday.

Forensic investigators in hazardous material suits and gas masks have begun searching the building where one of the latest Novichok victims lives. Rowley and Sturgess are still being treated. Britain has notified the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

"The working assumption would be that these are victims of either the effect of the previous attack, or something else, but not that they were directly targeted", security minister Ben Wallace told the BBC.

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