Monday 16 July 2018

Counter-terrorism officers now probing 'major incident' that left two people critical - UK Police

Police cordon at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, Wiltshire, near to a major incident that has been declared after it was suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance: PA Wire
Police cordon at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, Wiltshire, near to a major incident that has been declared after it was suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance: PA Wire

Ryan Wilkinson

Counter-terrorism officers are now involved in the investigation of an incident near the southwestern English city of Salisbury which has left two people in critical condition, London's police force said on Wednesday.

"Given the recent events in Salisbury, officers from the counter terrorism network are working jointly with colleagues from Wiltshire Police regarding the incident in Amesbury," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

"As Wiltshire Police have stated, they are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances surrounding the incident."

A major incident has been declared in Wiltshire after it was suspected two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance in Amesbury.

The man and woman, both in their 40s, are in a critical condition at Salisbury District Hospital, Wiltshire Police said.

A number of places in the Amesbury and Salisbury area have been cordoned off as a precaution and the force said it was not yet clear if they were the victims of a crime, however detectives are keeping an "open mind" about the circumstances of the incident.

Public Health England (PHE) advised that it did not believe there to be a "significant health risk" to the wider public, although its advice was being reviewed.

The incident comes after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were left poisoned by a suspected military nerve agent in Salisbury, which is around eight miles from Amesbury, in March.

Police said the man and woman were found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road on Saturday evening.

The address is thought to be on a new housing development on the southern edge of the town, which lies close to Stonehenge.

Police and emergency services initially believed the pair may have taken illegal drugs, however further tests are now being carried out.

A police statement said: "Wiltshire Police and partners have this evening declared a major incident after it is suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance in Amesbury.

"Emergency services were called to an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury on Saturday evening (June 30) after a man and woman, both in their 40s, were found unconscious in a property.

"They are both currently receiving treatment for suspected exposure to an unknown substance at Salisbury District Hospital. They are both in a critical condition.

"It was initially believed that the two patients fell ill after using possibly heroin or crack cocaine from a contaminated batch of drugs.

"However, further testing is now ongoing to establish the substance which led to these patients becoming ill and we are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances surrounding this incident."

A number of scenes believed to be areas they frequented before they fell ill were cordoned off overnight.

Meanwhile there was an increased police presence in and around Amesbury and Salisbury.

Salisbury District Hospital was "open as usual" and officials advised people to attend routine appointments unless they are contacted to do otherwise.

A PHE spokesman said: "The current advice from PHE England, based upon the number of casualties affected, is that it is not believed that there is a significant health risk to the wider public. This will be continually assessed as further information becomes known".

Mr Skripal, 67, and his daughter, 33, were left in a critical condition after they were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury city centre on March 4.

They spent weeks in Salisbury District Hospital where they underwent treatment for suspected exposure to the Russian-created nerve agent Novichok.

The British Government has accused Russia of being behind the attack on Mr Skripal, who settled in the UK after a spy swap.

Press Association

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