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Chemical weapons watchdog confirms nerve agent Novichok killed British woman Dawn Sturgess

The nerve agent is the same chemical found in samples relating to the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, says the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2018, 4:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2018, 5:04am

The global chemical weapons watchdog on Tuesday confirmed findings by British authorities that the Novichok nerve agent killed one person and sickened another in the English town of Amesbury in June.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that its tests showed that the nerve agent “is also the same toxic chemical that was found in the biomedical and environmental samples relating to the poisoning” of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in nearby Salisbury in March.

While the OPCW did not publicly name the nerve agent, Britain earlier identified it as Novichok, a lethal substance produced in the Soviet Union during the cold war.

Dawn Sturgess and her partner, Charlie Rowley, were sickened months after the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok. Sturgess later died.

Rowley, 45, was discharged in July but was later readmitted to Salisbury district hospital. It recently transpired he is being treated for meningitis and sight problems.

The OPCW report said that it was not able to establish whether the Novichok used to poison the Skripals was from the same batch as that which later killed Sturgess and sickened Rowley.

Special safety measures for UK funeral of Novichok poisoning victim

Britain blames Russia for poisoning the Skripals, a charge Moscow denies.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt again hit out at Russia after the OPCW issued its report.

“The recklessness of the Russian state in bringing a nerve agent into the UK, and total disregard for the safety of the public, is appalling and irresponsible,” Hunt said. “Our thoughts are with the family of Dawn Sturgess, and with Charlie Rowley.”

Additional reporting by The Guardian