U.K. police declare “major incident” after two found unconscious from unknown substance

A police officer stands guard at a police cordon near to a house in Newport, south Wales, on Sept. 20, 2017, as they continue their investigations into the September 15 terror attack on a London underground tube train carriage attack at Parsons Green station.

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British police on Wednesday declared a “major incident” after two people were found unconscious due to an unknown substance near Salisbury, where a former British spy and his daughter were poisoned by a suspected nerve agent in March. Police said they initially believed the couple’s collapse was drug-related, but police said in a release they are now “open-minded” about the case. 

The couple, both in their 40s, were found unconscious in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday. Police in Wiltshire said that while it’s unclear if a crime has been committed, several sites in Amesbury and Salisbury known to have been frequented by the couple had been cordoned off.

Both victims are both in critical condition. Police are currently conducting tests to identify the substance. 

Wiltshire police warned that residents of Amesbury and Salisbury, which are eight miles apart, can expect an increased police presence. 

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said they believed that “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.”

Both patients are being treated at Salisbury District Hospital, which is “open as usual,” police said. 

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