Novichok in Wiltshire death 'highly likely' from batch used on Skripals

The officer was given the all-clear

Mrs Sturgess, 44, died on Sunday and Mr Rowley, 45, is in a critical condition in a coma after they apparently handled an item discarded following the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury on March 4.

She had been hospitalised after falling ill on June 30, along with a 45-year-old man, in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head United Kingdom counter-terrorism policing which is leading the investigation, said he was "unable to say" if the incident in Amesbury is linked to the poisoning of the Skripals on 3 March - but it is their "main line of inquiry".

In the immediate aftermath of Sturgess's death, Russian officials and state media appear to have refrained from the snark and sarcasm that permeated their public responses to British accusations of Russian involvement in the Skripals' poisoning.

Theresa May said: 'Police and security officials are working urgently to establish the facts of this incident, which is now being investigated as a murder.

"This is shocking and tragic news", Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of UK Counter-Terrorism policing, said.

Around 100 counter-terrorism officers are helping in the investigation, which police said Friday could take "weeks and months".

Counterterrorism police are also studying roughly 1,300 hours of closed circuit television footage in hopes of finding clues about the couple's activities in the hours before they became violently ill.

It came after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were targeted in the same city earlier this year.

Further intelligence - including Russian Federation having allegedly tested using nerve agent on door handles, which is how the Skripals are believed to have been poisoned - backed up that argument.

'Their reaction was so severe, it resulted in Dawn's death and Charlie being critically ill.

"We are not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skripals were exposed to", police said.

The latest poisonings have further inflamed tensions between London and Moscow.

"Our thoughts are also with the people of Salisbury and Amesbury and the Home Secretary will make a statement shortly including on the support we will continue to provide to the local community throughout this hard time".

Both were determined to have been exposed to the nerve agent after touching a contaminated item with their hands, police said.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed condolences over Dawn Sturgess" death and said Moscow is "deeply concerned over the continuous cases of these poison elements'.

"Our current advice, based on the small number of casualties affected remains that the risk to the public is low", Paul Cosford, Director at Public Health England has said in a statement.

The Metropolitan police claims that neither Rowley or Sturgess have any history or connection that would clearly make them out to be targets.

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