British police have launched a murder investigation into the death of a woman who was exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, the same type of nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, who lived in a homeless hostel in Salisbury died in hospital on Sunday after falling critically ill due to handling an item on June 30 that was contaminated with the deadly nerve agent “novichok.” Her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also exposed to the nerve agent, remains critically ill in hospital.
The investigation into the poisonings is being led by detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network, and about 100 detectives are working alongside police officers.
Investigators are still trying to determine how the couple were exactly exposed to the nerve agent after emergency services were called eight days ago when Sturgess collapsed due to the contamination.
Later the same day, an ambulance was called back to the same address after Rowley – Sturgess’s partner — also fell critically ill.
Reactions to the nerve agent death
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “appalled and shocked” by the death of Dawn Sturgess which comes after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with the same nerve agent.
The British government claims the attempted murder was an act of the Russian government while Moscow vehemently denies the claims and has warned Britain that it “will be sorry” for falsely accusing Moscow of carrying out a chemical attack against a former double-agent.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added that the incident had “shocked” him and that his “thoughts were with her family and friends at this terrible time.”
British diplomat Julian King, the European Commissioner responsible for the EU’s security union, said: “Those behind this are murderers.”
During a visit to Salisbury on Sunday to meet residents caught up in the nerve agent poisoning, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he is “determined to bring the killers to justice.”
“We know back in March that it was the Russians. We know it was a barbaric, inhuman act by the Russian state. Again, for this particular incident, we need to learn more and let the police do their work,” he said.