Two critical after ‘exposure to unknown substance’ near spy nerve attack scene
Wiltshire Police have declared a major incident and cordoned off a number of places in Salisbury and Amesbury.
A major incident has been declared amid fears that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance.
A man and a woman, both in their 40s, are in a critical condition in Salisbury District Hospital, Wiltshire Police said.
A number of places in Amesbury and Salisbury have been cordoned off as a precaution.
The force said it was not yet clear if the pair were the victims of a crime, but detectives are keeping an “open mind” about the circumstances of the incident.
We've declared a major incident after it is suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance in Amesbury. Full details here: https://t.co/yaaUqH97Te pic.twitter.com/xryG8Cy7nV— Wiltshire Police (@wiltshirepolice) July 4, 2018
Public Health England (PHE) said it did not believe there to be a “significant health risk” to the wider public, although its advice was being reviewed.
A Government spokesman said: “Ministers are being kept up to date about the incident in Amesbury.”
Images from the scene showed a police presence in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, where the pair were found unconscious inside a property on Saturday, while a nearby Baptist church appeared to have been cordoned off.
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.
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.
A police statement on Tuesday 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 33-year-old daughter 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.