Mother exposed to nerve agent dies ten days after exposure

Police officers are seen outside Amesbury Baptist Centre in Amesbury nine miles north of Salisbury southern England

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of Britain's counter-terror police, said Sturgess' death was "shocking and tragic news".

London's Metropolitan Police force said detectives had become a murder investigation with 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess's death at a hospital in Salisbury. She became ill alongside a man named locally as Charlie Rowley, 45.

"Further tests of samples from Dawn and the man showed that they were exposed to the nerve agent after touching a contaminated item with their hands".

Sturgess, 44, and her partner, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley - who remains hospitalized in critical condition - were exposed to the Soviet-era Russian nerve agent in the southern England town of Amesbury, authorities said.

"This awful 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", Neil Basu, the head of United Kingdom counterterrorism policing, said in a statement.

Police had been working to discover how she and Rowley had come across an item contaminated with Novichok, the same toxin used in an attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter four months ago.

The possibility that the two investigations might be linked is "clearly a key line of inquiry for police", the Met said.

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Britain blames the Russian state for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter - an allegation Moscow strongly denies.

She said: "The staff here at Salisbury District Hospital worked tirelessly to save Dawn".

A police officer sought medical advice Saturday in connection with the ongoing investigation of the nerve agent exposure, but was given the "all clear," according to Wiltshire Police.

Britain's public health authority acknowledged on Friday the concerns of people living in the area after the two incidents involving Novichok, but said it was confident that the risk to the public remained low.

Ms Sturgess's family are being given support by specialist officers and have asked for privacy. Police said there is no evidence that either Sturgess or Rowley visited any of the sites where the Skripals may have been poisoned.

Police say the nerve agent that sickened Rowley and Sturgess was the same type that nearly killed the Skripals, but scientists haven't been able to tell whether it was from the same batch.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, almost died of exposure to Novichok left on the front doorstep of Sergei's home in March.

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