Murder inquiry as United Kingdom woman exposed to nerve agent Novichok dies

UK official reassures residents in poisoning case | World

UK official reassures residents in poisoning case | World

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital Sunday evening, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Police are opening a murder investigation after Dawn Sturgess died from exposure to a Russian nerve agent eight days after touching it.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of Britain's counter-terror police, said Sturgess's death "has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act". Rowley remains in critical condition and in a coma at the Salisbury hospital.

The UK's top counter-terrorism officer says police are unable to confirm whether the Novichok nerve agent to which a couple was exposed in Amesbury was from the same batch used to poison the Skripals in Salisbury last March.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed condolences over Ms Sturgess's death but said linking Russian Federation to the poisoning would be "absurd".

It is unknown if the incident is connected to the major police investigation in the the Novichok poisoning crisis.

Police said Sturgess was at a home in Amesbury on June 30 when she became sick around 10 a.m. and was hospitalized. Ms Sturgess has since died in hospital.

"Just like before, we are deeply concerned that toxic substances continue to surface on British soil", Peskov said.

Skripal was a Russian military intelligence officer, turned double agent for the UK.

Mr Basu said no one else in the Amesbury and Salisbury region, where the couple lived in south-western England, had shown any sign of Novichok poisoning.

"I simply can not offer any guarantees", Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of Britain's counter-terror police, which is leading the investigation, told reporters.

"We consider that it is a danger not only for the British, but for other Europeans", he said.

Though it has not been established whether this incident is linked to the attack on the Skripals, Mr Basu said that theory was the "main line of inquiry". That afternoon, Rowley fell ill at the same address in Amesbury and was also hospitalised.

Police suspect Mr Rowley and Mr Sturgess handled an item from the first attack, which Britain blames on Russian Federation.

Police are yet to recover that item but Public Health England said the risk to the public is low and warned against picking up "any odd items such as needles, syringes or unusual containers".

The hospital's medical director, Christine Blanshard, told the BBC that hospital staff worked tirelessly to save Sturgess. Police said the three men with Mr Rowley in the van had been contacted.

"Following tests, no traces of the nerve agent have been identified on the bus". "However, it is important that the investigation is led by the evidence available and the facts alone", the Met said.