World / Crime & Legal

Roads shut, hazmat team called after pair fall ill at eatery in U.K. city where ex-Russia spy was poisoned

AP, Reuters

British police said there is nothing to suggest the nerve agent Novichok was involved in an incident in which two people became ill at a restaurant in the English city where a Russian ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned.

The police closed roads in the city in Salisbury and called a hazardous response team Sunday night after two people became ill at the Prezzo restaurant, saying the emergency steps were taken in response to what they believe was “a medical incident.”

“As a precautionary measure, the restaurant and surrounding roads have been cordoned off while officers attend the scene and establish the circumstances surrounding what has led them to fall ill,” the police said in a statement.

The condition of the man and woman who got sick at the restaurant was under investigation and it remained unclear whether a crime had been committed, Wiltshire police said. Enquiries were continuing, they added.

One of the two people taken ill at the restaurant is Russian, Sky News said, citing sources.

The city spent months with quarantine tents and investigators in full-body protective gear combing for evidence after Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter were found unconscious on a bench in March.

Its residents were put back on edge in June when a man and a woman living in a nearby town was hospitalized with signs of exposure to the same Soviet-made nerve agent, Novichok. The woman, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, died.

Britain’s counterterrorism police said this month they think Sturgess’ boyfriend found a counterfeit perfume bottle containing remnants of the substance originally applied on the front door of Skripals home in Salisbury.

British prosecutors have charged two Russian men in absentia with poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. They have alleged Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were Russian intelligence agents, which they and Moscow have denied.