The UK on Wednesday confirmed that the two people who lie critically ill in Salisbury District Hospital were exposed to Novichok, the same nerve agent that sickened Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The BBC reports the pair are Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44; Metropolitan Police on Thursday said their exposure came from "handling a contaminated item"—what's unclear is if that item was overlooked following the Skripals' March attack or part of some new batch, though a former member of the British Army's chemical and biological weapons unit tells the Washington Post his understanding is that it is "collateral from the original attack, possibly contained in a syringe or medical container." More:
- The couple spent Friday in Salisbury, the city where the Skripals were poisoned, before falling ill in an Amesbury home roughly 10 miles away. Hamish De Bretton-Gordon, who is not part of the current investigation, speculated the item could have been tossed in a Salisbury park or nearby river, which is at a low point right now.
- As for what that item was, "detectives are working as quickly and as diligently as possible to identify the source of the contamination," police said, per CNN.
- Security Minister Ben Wallace implored Russia to "put this wrong right" by coming clean on the Skripal poisoning and says he is "waiting for the phone call from the Russian state." He was joined by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who said "it is now time that the Russian state comes forward and explains exactly what has gone on. ... It is completely unacceptable ... for our streets, our parks, our towns, to be dumping grounds for poison."
- They'll likely have to keep waiting. Time flagged this Thursday tweet from the Russian embassy in the Netherlands: "How dumb they think [Russia] is to use 'again' so-called 'Novichok' in the middle of the FIFA World Cup and after the special session of the CSP" [Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention; more on that here].
- As for the sickened couple, the Times of London reports that Sturgess, a mother of three, collapsed first; Rowley became sickened hours later and was reportedly foaming at the mouth and in a "zombie-like state." A friend tells the BBC Sturgess was also foaming at the mouth, and describes Rowley as "sweating, dribbling, and making weird noises."
(Read more Novichok