Russian TV: Britain poisoned double agent

March 12, 2018

Traces of a nerve agent that affected Sergei Skripal and his daughter have been found in Salisbury.

British health authorities have urged people to wash their clothing and possessions as a precaution if they visited a restaurant and pub in the English city of Salisbury, where a Russian ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent.

The official statement on Sunday was the first time British officials have urged the public to take specific actions as a result of the attack. Officials still say the risk is low as investigators in hazard gear combed key sites for clues.

Public Health England issued advice for anyone who went to either the Zizzi restaurant or The Mill pub at certain hours of March 4 and 5. Ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia reportedly ate at Zizzi before falling critically ill on March 4.

"While there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in either of these locations, it is possible, but unlikely, that any of the substance which has come into contact with clothing or belongings could still be present in minute amounts and therefore contaminate your skin," the statement said. "Over time, repeated skin contact with contaminated items may pose a small risk to health."

The health agency added that any clothing should be washed in "an ordinary washing machine using your regular detergent at the temperature recommended for the clothing".

It also said to "wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin".

Health officials say that up to 500 people may have to take these precautions. The government, meanwhile, hasn't revealed what nerve agent was used in the attack.

A large-scale police investigation is under way in Salisbury as forensics experts wearing protective gear search for clues. Among the sites they are searching are the Zizzi restaurant, which is closed to the public, and the gravesites where Skripal's wife and son are buried. Skripal's house has also been extensively searched for clues and traces of the nerve agent.

Authorities haven't revealed how or where the Skripals were exposed to the nerve agent. It's not known if it happened in a restaurant, a pub, Skripal's house or elsewhere.

Wiltshire police planned to hold a news conference on Sunday afternoon to release further details about the widening investigation.

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