Witness to latest Salisbury incident says she was told victims were Russian

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A woman who sat next to one of two people who fell ill prompting a Novichok scare at a Salisbury restaurant has said that police told her the two victims were Russian.

Amanda Worne, 47, from Yapton, near Arundel, West Sussex, said that “armageddon” broke out as police and the emergency services responded to the incident at the Prezzo restaurant in High Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, at 6.45pm on Sunday.

A major incident was declared when a man aged 42 and a woman aged 30 became unwell at the restaurant and were taken to Salisbury District Hospital to be “clinically assessed”.

Wiltshire Police said because of concerns that the pair had been exposed to an unknown substance “a highly precautionary approach” had been taken but later confirmed that Novichok was not involved and the major incident was stood down.

Mrs Worne, who uses a wheelchair after being paralysed in a cycling accident, said that she had gone to the restaurant with a friend after finishing a flying lesson and had asked the woman, who she described as a “beautiful blonde”, if she could sit next to her on a sofa in the restaurant.

Salisbury restaurant incident
Emergency services outside the Prezzo restaurant (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mrs Worne added: “The girl, she looked slightly dishevelled, there was something about her, she wasn’t comfortable, she wasn’t relaxed, she had a large glass of wine next to her and my friend and I thought she might have been on an afternoon session.”

She added: “She was really peculiar, she was stunning but her skirt was a bit skew-whiff, she was a bit stumbling, she didn’t look right.”

She continued: “She kept getting up and down and acting a little unusual, she went up to the toilet and came down hysterical ‘Oh my God, we need an ambulance, we need an ambulance, someone help we need an ambulance’.”

Salisbury restaurant incident
Witness Amanda Worne outside the Prezzo restaurant (Ben Mitchell/PA)

She said: “The paramedic, he was grey, the perspiration, you could see he was so apprehensive, he said ‘Just get out’.”

Mrs Worne said she called 999 to ask where the police were and they arrived shortly afterwards and she added: “The next thing it was all carnage, it was armageddon, there were sirens, ambulances.”

Amesbury incident
Yulia Skripal and her father were targeted in a Novichok attack (Dylan Martinez/PA)

Mrs Worne, who was given the all-clear, said she could not tell the woman’s nationality from her accent.

Wiltshire Police said they would not comment on the nationality of the two people.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Davies-Bateman later said: “Although we were able to rule out the presence of Novichok quickly, tests are ongoing to understand what, if anything, the pair have come into contact with which may have caused them to fall unwell.

“It is crucial that this is done methodically. At this stage, it is unclear as to whether or not a crime has been committed.

“We understand this matter is of significant interest but we would remind everyone that speculation is not helpful and we will update you as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

He said the incident had caused a great deal of concern in the local area, and thanked people who had been in Prezzo or the immediate vicinity for their support and understanding.

Prezzo said: “As far as we know, this is an isolated incident and all of our team are well and keen to return to duty when the restaurant is able to re-open.

“We are co-operating fully with the police enquiries and would like to thank Salisbury’s emergency services, our neighbours, our customers and our team for their support.”

The Italian restaurant is a short walk from Queen Elizabeth Gardens, which was until recently closed off after 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess was fatally poisoned by the nerve agent in June.

Also nearby is Zizzi, the Italian restaurant where former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia visited before they were taken ill in March.

Police said Ms Sturgess was killed by the same chemical used in an alleged hit by Russian military intelligence officers on Mr Skripal.

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