Novichok Poisoning: Specialist Officers Search Central City Park

July 18, 2018 Last Updated: July 18, 2018

Specialist counter-terrorism officers investigating the novichok nerve agent poisonings in Wiltshire have started to search a central city park.

The nerve agent killed Dawn Sturgess, 44, and left her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, in serious condition.

Police believe that the couple, who fell ill on June 30, touched a small bottle containing novichok.

Rowley, who is in Salisbury District Hospital, told relatives that the nerve agent was in a small perfume bottle.

Officials are conducting a thorough search at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury “for a number of days.”

“We are intentionally undertaking a detailed and meticulous search so that the public can return to using the gardens with confidence when they are reopened,” said Wiltshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills.

The scene at Muggleton Road, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve agent novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters/File Photo)

Scientists at the Porton Down defense research laboratory have confirmed that the couple was exposed to the same nerve agent that nearly killed ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March.

The UK holds Russia responsible for the March attack on the Skripals, which prompted a major Western expulsion of Russian diplomats. Moscow rejected the accusations and hit back by expelling Western diplomats.

UK’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid, has said that Russia must explain exactly what happened.

After having a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Fox News that he had never heard of the last names of the recent novichok victims.

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“We’ve recently heard that two more people suffered from the same nerve agent that is called novichok. I have never even heard the last names of these persons. Who are they?” he said.

Putin added, “What kind of package, what kind of bottle, what is the chemical formula? Who got it? Or maybe there are other reasons, maybe reasons within the United Kingdom, but nobody wants to look into these.”

Forensic investigators, wearing protective suits, emerge from the rear of John Baker House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Mike Wade, Public Health England deputy director for Health Protection in the South West said the risk to the public remains low but warned the public not to pick up any “strange items.”

These include syringes, needles, cosmetics, or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass, he said.

He added, “The advice remains—if you didn’t drop it, then don’t pick it up.”