British couple sickened by same poison used on Russian spy


British police scoured sections of Salisbury and Amesbury in Southwestern England on Friday, searching for a small vial feared to be contaminated with traces of the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

The incident comes a few months after former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by the same nerve agent in Salisbury, just 5 miles east of Amesbury.

Salisbury is a short distance from Amesbury where Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, fell ill last Saturday.

The officer was cleared at Salisbury District Hospital.

"It is rather scary", a local resident told AFP, as he walked by the canal.

"You can identify the agent, but it's impossible to track down its source", Uglev said. "It is something different, it could be on that makes me anxious".

Britain's interior minister accused Russia on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) of turning the United Kingdom into a "dumping grounds for poison", and demanded an explanation on how two people were inadvertently poisoned with the same military-grade nerve agent used to attack a former Russian spy and his daughter in the same area four months ago.

Maria Zakharova, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters in Moscow that Britain should avoid "dirty political games" and should instead co-operate with Russian law enforcement.

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Zakharova told reporters Thursday that "this government and specifically its leadership will one day have to apologise to Russian Federation and the worldwide community".

Russian Federation said Thursday it had offered assistance to Britain with the Skripal investigation, but that Britain refused the offer.

A police officer guards a cordoned off rubbish bin on Rolleston Street, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Salisbury, Britain, July 5, 2018.

Hobson said he went to Rowley's house on Saturday as Sturgess was being taken to hospital and stayed with him for several hours until he, too, began to complain of feeling ill. Then a local couple with no obvious connection to Russian Federation or to espionage fell desperately ill and the government said Novichok was to blame. British police have blocked off multiple locations that Sturgess and Rowley may have visited, to prevent additional people from becoming victims.

Russia, which is now hosting the soccer World Cup, has denied any involvement in the March incident and suggested the British security services had carried out that attack to stoke anti-Moscow hysteria.

"The Novichok gel that was smeared on the handle of the Skripals' house was presumably transported in some device or syringe", he said.

Police did not point to any individuals or nations in the more recent case, with Basu saying "we are not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skripals were exposed to".

The building is a short distance away from numerous sites closed to the public after the attempted murder of a former Russian spy with the nerve agent in March.