Amesbury woman Dawn Sturgess has died after being exposed to toxic nerve agent Novichok in late June, according to CNN. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Novichok, a "Soviet-era" nerve agent, was found to be the same nerve agent that poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
Sturgess was found in her home last Saturday along with her partner, Charles Rowley. Sturgess was taken to the hospital first after falling unconscious. Hours later, Rowley was taken to the Salisbury District Hospital after experiencing the same symptoms. He is currently in critical condition.
According to the Metropolitan Police, the couple was exposed to Novichok "after touching a contaminated item with their hands." They have not yet determined the "source of contamination." Though they were exposed to the same substance as Skripal, there is no indication that they knew him or went to the same location where the Skripals were exposed to Novichok. Both Skripal and his daughter survived the attack and were released in spring.
"We are not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skripals were exposed to. The possibility that the two investigations might be linked is clearly a key line of inquiry for police. However, it is important that the investigation is led by the evidence available and the facts alone," said Metropolitan Police.
Now, police have officially opened a murder investigation in light of Sturgess' death. London Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner of Special Operations Neil Basu spoke about Sturgess' passing.
"This terrible news has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act."From the outset, officials believe that Russia was involved with the poisoning of Skripal and possibly Sturgess. CNN reports that "UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid called Thursday for Russia to provide explanations after it was confirmed that Sturgess and Rowley were exposed to the same nerve agent as Skripal and his daughter."
Though Russia has continually denied any involvement, countless countries have "expelled Russian diplomats in show of support for the UK."
Novichok was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It is believed to be ten times deadlier than VX, a nerve agent that is listed as a weapon of mass destruction. Novichok was relatively unknown throughout the world until former scientist Vil Mirzayanov spoke out. He noted that a strong enough dose of Novichok will cause a person to die almost instantly. Otherwise, those exposed will suffer symptoms such as convulsions, difficulty breathing, vision impairment, vomiting, and more.
"It's a terrible scene," Mirzayanov said.
Sturgess is survived by her three children. UK Prime Minister Theresa May says her "thoughts and condolences" are with the Sturgess family at this time.