Decontamination of shopping centre after nerve agent attack on Russian spy completed

 Decontamination of shopping centre after nerve agent attack on Russian spy completed

LONDON (Reuters) - A shopping centre in the English city where a former Russian spy was found collapsed with his daughter after a nerve agent attack more than two months ago has been successfully decontaminated, Britain's environment department said on Monday.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench outside the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4, and decontamination teams descended on the cathedral city in the aftermath of what Britain has described as first use of nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.

Britain's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said that all items that might have been contaminated had been removed and safely disposed of.

"Following extensive clean-up operations in Salisbury to remove any potential residual contamination resulting from the nerve agent attack on 4 March, decontamination work is now complete at the Maltings," the department said in a statement.

The Skripals arrived at the car park of the Sainsbury's supermarket store at The Maltings before they went to the Bishop's Mill pub and then to Zizzi, an Italian restaurant.

They were found on the bench a short while later, although police have said they believe the nerve toxin was left on the front door of Sergei Skripal's home.

Britain's accusations that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack led to a Russia-West crisis in which Western governments, including the United States, have expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats. Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning and retaliated in kind.

The pair were in a critical condition for weeks and doctors at one point feared that, even if they survived, they might have suffered brain damage. But their health began to improve rapidly, and both have now been discharged, with Sergei Skripal leaving hospital last Friday.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Updated Date: May 22, 2018 03:05:19 IST