A small area in England is getting international attention for the second time this year for another near-deadly attack on an unsuspecting pair. Saturday morning, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess (both in their 40s) were hospitalized after feeling sick and collapsing in their home in Amesbury, Wiltshire. Doctors determined that they were exposed to the same lethal nerve agent (called novichok) that was used to poison ex-Russian spy and U.K. double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. Both Rowley and Sturgess remain in hospital in critical condition.
Thursday morning, the U.K. demanded an explanation from the Russian government for why this substance has affected four people in the U.K. in the past six months. They did not accuse Russia of intentionally poisoning either the Skripals or Rowley and Sturgess, but British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that there are no acceptable reasons for novichok to be in the country.
“It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets,” Javid said, “Or for our streets, our parks or our towns to be dumping grounds for poison.”
Home Secretary @sajidjavid has issued a statement on the Amesbury investigation, following confirmation from the police that two people were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok: https://t.co/52H6G4zSLi
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) July 5, 2018
Authorities are trying to piece together the couple’s movements in the time period before they fell ill. They are currently still unsure about where they came into contact with the poison and if there are more contaminated areas or objects nearby. They are advising that anyone in the area wipe down or wash personal items and minimize the objects they come into contact with outside their homes.
Russian state media is denying any connection to either poisoning and again suggesting that the U.K. is engaging in a smear campaign against Russia. When the Skripals were poisoned, Prime Minister Theresa May was quick to point the finger at Russia and take a hard stance against the country. The U.K. and several key allies expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation and solidarity — a move with which Russia, particularly President Vladimir Putin, was not pleased. They reaffirmed that they were not involved in the attack and vowed retaliation for the expelled diplomats.
The Russian embassy in Norway also weighed in, calling the United Kingdom “dumb” for thinking that the country would poison U.K. citizens “in the middle of the FIFA world cup.”
How dumb they think 🇷🇺 is to use “again” so-called “Novichok” in the middle of the FIFA World Cup and after the special session of the CSP (convened by the way by 🇬🇧) that gave the #OPCW attribution functions. The show must go on? pic.twitter.com/a9FdJceWIv
— Russian Embassy in NL🇷🇺🇳🇱 (@rusembassynl) July 5, 2018
Recovery for Rowley and Surgess is still uncertain, but the Skripals are now out of the hospital and living in a secret location.