Salisbury's fears continue after police admit there could be more Novichok out there

Salisbury's fears continue after police admit there could be more Novichok out therePolice have admitted there could still be traces of deadly Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, prompting renewed concern over the safety of residents and the continued impact on the city’s tourism economy. The warning came after officers discovered a small glass bottle at the Wiltshire home of Charlie Rowley, which has since tested positive for the chemical. Mr Rowley’s girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital last Sunday evening after being exposed to the nerve agent the previous weekend. Salisbury couple He was also taken to hospital critically ill, but has since regained consciousness and has been interviewed by police. It is thought Mr Rowley, 45, was able to help detectives as to the whereabouts of the source of the contamination when he emerged from his coma last week. The rise of biological and chemical weapons After Salisbury, how ready is the UK? Further tests on the bottle and its contents are now being carried out and it is hoped it could provide crucial evidence to prove who attacked the former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March. But announcing the discovery of the bottle as “a significant and positive development”, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the Head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, also warned: “We cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time. This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team.” AC Basu added: “The safety of the public and our officers remains paramount and we are continuing to work closely with Wiltshire Police, scientists, health experts from Public Health England and other partners.” PHE has maintained its advice to the public not to pick up any discarded object in the Salisbury area, such as containers, lids, syringes, needles, cosmetics, which could contain liquid or gel. Scotland Yard said tests at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Wiltshire, had confirmed to that the substance contained in the bottle was Novichok and further tests are being carried out to establish whether it came from the same batch that contaminated Mr Skripal and his daughter. Police outside the home of Charlie Rowley, 45, in Muggleton Road in Amesbury, Wiltshire, where a bottle containing Novichok was found Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Police yesterday said their search teams had recovered over 400 exhibits, samples and items as part of the ongoing police investigation. Scotland Yard also warned that searches for any other potential sites or sources of contamination  are expected to continue for several weeks, if not months. AC Basu described the investigation as “one of the most complex and difficult that UK policing has ever faced”. But the fact police have yet to confirm how the bottle came into the possession of Mr Rowley and Miss Sturgess and where they found it has left Salisbury residents deeply uneasy. Novichok poisoning – Salisbury – Amesbury timeline and map It is thought they may have come across it in Queen Elizabeth Gardens, close to the centre of Salisbury, before catching a bus to Mr Rowley’s home, where they collapsed within hours of each other. The large park has since been sealed off by police. Sabrina Burr, 38, who lives less than 200 metres away from Mr Rowley’s home in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, said: “I can’t believe that something so deadly could be so close. It’s scary to think what could have happened, children play around here, what if something happened to them? “I’m quite concerned that anyone around here could have been exposed, it makes me a little angry. Is there more of it?” Ms Burr added: “I’m happy police have found it but I hope this is the only source of it, if they could just pick it up, then anyone could.” Officers yesterday continued their forensic examination of Mr Rowley’s home, where a fire engine and a special incident response ambulance remained in position. Another of Mr Rowley’s neighbours said she is now scared to let her children play either on the green next to his home or in Queen Elizabeth Gardens. She said: “It’s really scary knowing that something that can kill you so easily was just hundreds of metres away from my home and children. “You would see Charlie and Dawn around, they were always very nice, but to think they were carrying something so deadly is horrible.” She added: “It’s scary that they were able to just pick it up off of the floor. I hope there isn’t anymore, but you just never know, I don’t think we will ever know for sure.” Matthew Dean, leader of Salisbury City Council, told The Sunday Telegraph: “A very big question remains over how the container got there and if it was found by one of them in Salisbury what are the implications for the people of the town.” Yulia Skripal, who survived a Novichok assassination attempt on her and her father Sergei, a former Russian spy Credit: Dylan Martinez/PA The impact of the second Novichok poisoning has left Salisbury’s economy reeling, just as it was starting to recover from the fall out of the attack on the Skripals. Footfall in local shops has dropped by an estimated thirty per cent, a similar drop to that which followed the Skripal attack – but at a time when the cathedral city should be busy with tourists. Local sources say many American coach parties have simply stopped coming to Salisbury, a favourite location close to Stonehenge. The Government is to provide a £5 million recovery package for the city to support businesses, boost tourism and meet unexpected costs. Mr Dean said: “People are very nervous about the continuing economic impact on the area. We have had very poor tourist numbers this year, despite the good weather. People are very concerned about that especially after they had started to feel they had turned a corner after the March attack.”

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