Update: And here come the 'Russians did it' allegations...
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the substance which has left two people critically ill in Amesbury was nerve agent Novichok.
The same agent that was allegedly used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal just a few miles away (who miraculously survived the 'deadly' nerve agent along with his daughter).
So why are "the Russians" now poisoning some random - non-former-Russian spies - British people?
One can only wonder at the timing of this second seemingly random poisoning with a deadly nerve agent coming so close to President Trump's scheduled summit with President Putin.
- An Amesbury couple in their 40's, Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45 were poisoned with Novichok nerve agent
- Police were initially called after Sturgess fell ill, only to return later that evening after Rowley also fell ill
- None of the other people who were with the couple at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury the day before fell ill
- One of the last places the couple was seen together in public was a family fund ay at Amesbury Baptist Centre on Saturday afternoon. The church has been cordoned off by police
Church secretary Roy Collins said: “Last weekend we held a community fundraiser and we understand this may well be the last event this couple went to in public.
“They are not church members or regulars.”
Mr Collins said around 200 people attended the event, including many families and children, but “nobody else has suffered any ill-effects”. -ITV
- Wiltshire police originally thought the couple had taken contaminated heroin or crack cocaine
- Authorities don't believe there is "a significant health risk to the wider public" at this time
- Rowley and Sturgess remain in critical condition in Salisbury District Hospital
- The address where the couple were found is on a new housing development on the southern edge of the town, which lies close to Stonehenge per ITV
Neighbours living near the scene were keen to find out more about what had happened to the couple. College student Chloe Edwards described seeing police cars, fire engines and people in “green suits” on Saturday night.
“We saw everything,” said the 17-year-old, who lives near the cordoned-off flat.
“We were just eating our dinner and all these emergency vehicles turned up.
“They were putting on these green suits and we thought it was the gas as our electricity was turned off as well.”
She said the vehicles arrived at about 7pm and she and her family were told to stay inside their home until about 10pm.
“We wanted to know what happened and, with the Russian attack happening not long ago, and we just assumed the worst,” she said.
“I am not sure how long they were in there but we couldn’t get out of the house for two-and-a-half hours.” -ITV
* * *
UK counterterrorism detectives and local police are investigating after a couple in their 40's fell critically ill from exposure to an unknown substance, just a few miles from where former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a suspected nerve agent in early March - exactly four months ago.
Authorities have not yet identified the substance, while some have speculated that the couple may have been sickened by residue from the poison which nearly killed the Skripals eight miles away in Salisbury.
Police were initially summoned to the scene Saturday morning about the collapsed woman, and then returned that evening after a man fell ill at the same address. At first, police thought that Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45, had taken a contaminated batch of crack or heroin.
"However, further testing is now ongoing to establish the substance which led to these patients becoming ill," said Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills. "At this stage it is not yet clear if a crime has been committed."
Sam Hobson, a friend of the couple, said he was with them on Saturday, when Sturgess fell ill first. He told Sky News she was "having a fit, foam coming out of her mouth." Rowley collapsed later the same day.
"He was sweating loads, dribbling. ... He was rocking backwards and forwards," Hobson said. "There was no response from him. He didn't even know I was there." -AP via ABC
Wiltshire police have declared the sickening which happened four days ago a "major incident," after the man and women were found collapsed inside of an Amesbury residential building. That designation will allow UK authorities to utilize more than one emergency agency to respond.
The incident has residents worried that history may be repeating itself.
"With the Russian attack happening not long ago, we just assumed the worst," said student Chloe Edwards, who said police and fire engines descended on a quiet street of newly built homes in Amesbury on Saturday evening.
Edwards said she saw people in green suits — like those worn by forensics officers — and her family was told to stay indoors for several hours. -AP via ABC
London's Metropolitian Police noted that "given the recent events in Salisbry," local police efforts were being aided by counterterrorism officers, while UK media is reporting that the mystery substance has been sent to the Porton Down defense research laboratory for testing - the same lab which has been unable to verify the source of the nerve agent used on the Skripals.
Prime Minister Theresa May said that the Amesbury incident "understandably is being treated with the utmost seriousness."
The emergency services' response echoes that in the case of Sergei Skripal, 67. The former Russian intelligence officer was convicted of spying for Britain before coming to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap.
He had been living in Salisbury, a cathedral city 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London, when he was struck down along with his 33-year-old daughter Yulia, who was visiting him.
The Skripals' illness initially baffled doctors after they were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury. Scientists at Porton Down concluded they had been poisoned with Novichok, a type of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. -AP via ABC
Police from 40 departments in England and Wales only just returned home last month from working the Skripal case, while specially trained workers have been decontaminating areas around Salisbury for months.
Rob Slane of TheBlogMire.com has written a five part series "Joining some dots on the Skripal" case which can be read here:
- Joining Some Dots On The Skripal Case: Part 1 – An Official Story That Doesn't Hold Water
- Joining Some Dots On The Skripal Case: Part 2 – Four "Invisible" Clues
- Joining Some Dots On The Skripal Case: Part 3 – The Agitated Mr Skripal
- Joining Some Dots On The Skripal Case: Part 4 – The Dodgy Dossier
- Joining Some Dots on the Skripal Case: Part 5 – An Educated Guess
The UK government has pledged $3.3 million to local businesses to make up for lost revenue in the area.
"Amesbury's a lovely place — it's very quiet, uneventful," said resident Rosemary Northing. "So for this to happen, and the media response and the uncertainty, it's unsettling."
Neighbor Justin Doughty, who lives across the street from the cordoned-off house, said residents want to know what's going on.
"We don't know, to be honest now, because is it linked to Salisbury or is it drug-related?" he said. "None of us is being told anything by the police, and it would be nice to know something."