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Wiltshire Major Incident: Two Critical After ‘Exposure To Unknown Substance’

HuffPost UK logo HuffPost UK 04/07/2018 Steven Hopkins

a narrow city street with cars parked on the side of a building: A major incident has been declared in Wiltshire after a man and woman were exposed to an unknown substance © Provided by PA A major incident has been declared in Wiltshire after a man and woman were exposed to an unknown substance A man and a woman suspected to have been exposed to an unknown substance in Wiltshire are in a critical condition, in what police have declared as a major incident. 

The pair, both in their 40s, were found unconscious in Amesbury on Saturday and are now in Salisbury District Hospital.

Officers initially thought the collapse was drugs-related but have since said they are “open-minded” as to the cause.

Wiltshire Police said on Wednesday that further tests on the substance were being carried out in a bid to identify it.

a store front at day: The man and woman in their 40s are being treated at Salisbury District Hospital  © Provided by PA Wire/PA Images The man and woman in their 40s are being treated at Salisbury District Hospital 

A number of places in the Amesbury and the Salisbury area have been cordoned off as a precaution and the force said it was not yet clear if the pair were the victims of a crime.

Detectives are keeping an “open mind” about the circumstances of the incident, Wiltshire Police said. 

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.

a person sitting at a table with wine glasses: 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 © Rex Features 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

“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 the pair 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.

Video: Salisbury District Hospital staff on the Skripals case (PA)

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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”.

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 Skripal, who settled in the UK after a spy swap.

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