UK police race to find source of new nerve agent poisoning

AMESBURY, England — British police scoured sections of Salisbury and Amesbury in southwest England on Friday, searching for a small vial feared to be contaminated with traces of the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

More than 100 officers were looking for clues in a race to understand how two local people were exposed to a nerve agent that was produced in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Police believe the couple may have come in contact with a contaminated vial or other item discarded in a public place after a March nerve agent attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. British officials blamed the Skripals’ poisoning on Russia. The Kremlin denies any involvement

The two new victims — Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45 — are in critical condition and were hospitalized Saturday after falling ill within hours of each other. At first authorities thought they might have had a bad drug reaction.

Experts say just a few milligrams of the odourless Novichok liquid — the weight of a snowflake — is enough to kill a person within minutes. And finding it is the problem.

Scientists say there’s no easy way to use technology to locate the container thought to be the source of the Novichok. Instead, there will have to be a laborious physical search of suspected sites.

Alastair Hay, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Leeds, said there is “no specific method for the detection of Novichoks in the environment” because the use of the nerve agent was not considered likely when monitors were designed.

That means authorities will have to take soil and vegetation samples from sites where it’s possible that the nerve agent was present and test the samples in a painstaking process to see if there is any contamination.

A number of sites are being searched in the town of Amesbury, where the couple fell ill, and the nearby city of Salisbury, where the Skripals were poisoned. Forensic searches were due to be carried out at the Amesbury home where Sturgess and Rowley collapsed, and other sites the couple visited before falling ill.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament on Thursday that it’s time for Russia to explain “exactly what has gone on.”

“It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison,” Javid said.

Matt Dunham And Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

 

Just Posted

City of Burnaby issues eviction notice to protesters at Kinder Morgan terminal

BURNABY, B.C. — The City of Burnaby is evicting protesters from a… Continue reading

B.C. homeowner groups can fine defiant short-term rental hosts $1,000 a day

VANCOUVER — Homeowners groups in British Columbia will soon be able to… Continue reading

Zuckerberg clarifies statements on treatment of fake news

NEW YORK — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is clarifying his stance pertaining… Continue reading

Greenpeace members climbing Olympic Stadium tower in Montreal

MONTREAL — At least three Greenpeace members are climbing the outside of… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Aaron Goodvin sings at Westerner Days

Aaron Goodvin performed at Westerner Days Wednesday.… Continue reading

WATCH: Global FMX at Westerner Days

There are three freestyle motocross shows a day at Westerner Park this week

Study links air pollution to drop in national park visitors

DENVER — Visitors appear to be steering clear of some U.S. national… Continue reading

Banff’s bathroom bears returned to the park after 15 months of rehab in Ontari

Three cubs found abandoned in a washroom along the Trans-Canada Highway in… Continue reading

Canada could get caught in cross-fire of U.S. uranium investigation

Canada could get caught in the crossfire after the U.S. Department of… Continue reading

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled his pre-election cabinet, shuffling… Continue reading

Canada’s premiers meet Indigenous groups, although three major groups decline

BOUCTOUCHE, N.B. — Canada’s premiers are meeting with Indigenous organizations in New… Continue reading

An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle

OTTAWA — An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month