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British Woman, Poisoned by Novichok Nerve Agent, Dies


A 44-year-old British woman who was exposed to a deadly nerve agent died on Sunday night, adding a homicide investigation to a tense diplomatic dispute between Britain and Russia.

The woman, Dawn Sturgess, 44, had been hospitalized in critical condition for a week after she and her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed in the last years of the Soviet Union.

The same nerve agent was used in March to poison Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter in Salisbury, England. British officials declared confidently that Russia was at fault, but tight-lipped investigators have shared little of the evidence they have gathered.

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Dawn Sturgess in a photo from social media.

The poisoning of two more people, apparently by accident, may provide a new data point about how the plot worked.

Ms. Sturgess was a mother of three from Durrington, England. Her partner, Mr. Rowley, remains in the hospital. They fell ill after being exposed to the nerve agent in Amesbury, a town close to the cathedral city of Salisbury.

Neil Basu, a top counterterrorism official with the Metropolitan Police, said the authorities were continuing to look into possible connections with the poisoning of the Skripals.

“This terrible news has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act,” Mr. Basu said in a statement on Sunday evening. “Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life.

The poisonings have revived tension between Britain and Russia.

On Thursday, Russia denied any involvement in the poisoning of the couple, as it did in the case of the Skripals, and suggested alternative possible explanations — including a claim that the British themselves could have planted the nerve agent. A Russian lawmaker said the British authorities might have concocted the case to sully Russia’s image while the country was hosting the World Cup soccer tournament.


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