Former Russian Spy Critically Ill After Exposure to Unknown Substance in Britain

SOLVENT    
     CLOSED The hospital has been cordoned off as the fire service investigate the incident

A pizza restaurant in Salisbury was closed by police late on Monday night as Sergei Skripal, 66, fought for his life in hospital a day after he was found unconscious in the city.

He was jailed in 2006 for 13 years after being caught spying for Britain.

He was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in 2010 in exchange for 10 USA spies as part of a swap. He was later flown to the UK.

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The priority, the police said, is to identify any substances involved.

"A source close to the investigation told Reuters earlier that former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who was convicted in 2006 of spying for Britain, was one of the two people left critically ill after exposure to the unidentified substance".

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Officers and paramedics were called to The Maltings shopping centre at 4.15pm after a man and a woman fell ill.

"They are now being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance". They are now in a critical condition.

"At this stage it is not yet clear if a crime has been committed", they said in a Twitter post, adding that they are "carrying out a full investigation & working with partner agencies, to clarify exact circumstances". The two are still in critical condition and the hospital and a number of locations in Salsbury were cordoned off in relation to the incident.

Anyone exposed to the unknown substance has been decontaminated, "as is standard practice in situations like this", a spokesman for Public Health England (PHE) said.

The male victim was taken to the hospital by auto, while the woman was airlifted, said The Journal, which published pictures of firefighters in special gear decontaminating an area of the city.

A spokesman for Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust said earlier: "We are now dealing with a major incident involving a small number of casualties, with a multi-agency response".

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