UK police say bottle was source of pair’s Novichok poisoning

LONDON — British detectives investigating the poisoning of two people with a military grade nerve agent said Friday that a small bottle found in the home of one of the victims tested positive for Novichok, a lethal substance produced in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45, were sickened on June 30 in a southwestern England town not far from Salisbury, where British authorities say a Russian ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned with Novichok in March.

Sturgess died in a hospital on Sunday. Rowley was in critical condition for more than a week, but has regained consciousness.

The Metropolitan Police said the bottle was found during searches of Rowley’s house Wednesday and scientists confirmed the substance in the bottle was Novichok. Police have interviewed Rowley since he became conscious.

Police are still looking into where the bottle came from and how it got into Rowley’s house. They said further tests would be done to try to establish if the nerve agent was from the same batch that was used to poison Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

More than 100 police officers had been searching for the source of Rowley and Sturgess’ exposure in the town of Amesbury, where they lived, and Salisbury, where the Skripals were poisoned.

The Skripals survived and were released from the Salisbury hospital before Rowley and Sturgess were poisoned and taken there. British authorities took the father and daughter to a secret protected location.

British police said earlier they suspected the new victims had handled a container contaminated with Novichok.

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