Woman poisoned with nerve agent Novichok dies, British police say

SWNS    
     AMESBURY A policeman stands outside the home where the couple were found unconscious

SWNS AMESBURY A policeman stands outside the home where the couple were found unconscious

Dawn Sturgess, 44, was one of five people who have become became critically after being exposed to the military-grade nerve agent in the Salisbury area.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after she was exposed to Novichok on June 30 in western England, just a few miles from where Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were attacked with the same poison four months ago.

Test samples from Sturgess and Rowley show they were exposed to Novichok "after touching a contaminated item with their hands", police said.

"Dawn leaves behind her family, including three children, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this extremely hard time", said Neil Basu, assistant commissioner and head of UK Counter Terrorism policing.

"Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life", Basu said.

Police suspect Rowley and Sturgess handled a discarded item from the first attack, though they have not determined for certain that the two cases are linked.

The British defence lab determined earlier that Novichok, a type of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, was used on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer once convicted in his homeland of spying for Britain.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the Skripal incident.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Sunday she was "appalled and shocked" by the death of Sturgess, according to a statement released by 10 Downing Street.

The investigation is being led by detectives from the Counter-Terrorism Policing Network and about 100 detectives are working on the case alongside Wiltshire Police.

"We are not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skripals were exposed to", the Met said, adding that the investigation into the attempted murders of the Skripals were ongoing.

Ms Sturgess's family are being given support by specialist officers and have asked for privacy. Both survived the exposure and have since been discharged from the hospital.

The latest poisonings have further inflamed tensions between London and Moscow.

Police officers stand guard near barriers across Rollestone Street, outside the John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living in Salisbury, southern England, July 8, 2018. Police say they don't think Sturgess and Rowley visited any of the locations decontaminated after the Skripals' poisoning.

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