Police Find Traces of Radiation Across London

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Authorities investigating the poisoning death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko say traces of radiation have been found at several more sites in London.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

In Britain, radiological testing has been ordered for three people who may have come into contact with irradiation that killed a KGB agent turned dissident in London last week. Traces of radiation have been found at several more sites in the city.

NPR's Rob Gifford reports.

ROB GIFFORD: Before he died, Alexander Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of murdering him. Significant amounts of the radioactive isotope Polonium 210 were found in his body. There's so far been no proof of Russian government involvement, and Putin himself has denied the accusations.

But as local authorities prepared an inquest into Litvinenko's death, police continued to search for evidence at several premises in London - Litvinenko's home in the north of the city, the hotel bar where he met some visiting Russians for a drink on November 1, the day he became ill, and the sushi bar in Central London where he at later the same day. Police are still calling it a suspicious death rather than a murder.

The man in charge of British affairs, Home Secretary John Reid, told parliament that traces of radiation had been found at several other premises, as well. Reid did not name the other contaminated locations but sought to allay fears about danger to the general public.

Mr. JOHN REID (Home Secretary, Great Britain): The nature of this radiation is such that it does not travel over long distances, a few centimeters at most, and therefore, there is no need for public alarm.

GIFFORD: There's still a mystery about how and where Litvinenko ingested the poison that cause his long, agonizing death with his hair falling out and his vital organs gradually shutting down. A spokeswoman for Britain's Health Protection Agency would not comment on the condition of three people who are undergoing further radiological assessment.

Rob Gifford, NPR News, London.

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