Few details thus far, but this doesn’t bode well:
Brunt said: “(Mr Scaramella) is said to have significant amounts of polonium-210 in his body.”
As with every new fact in this story, it could cut both ways. The fact that Scaramella’s been victimized too makes it less likely that he’s the assassin — unless he accidentally ingested the poison while preparing it or spraying it on Litvinenko’s food. It makes it more likely that the poisoning happened at the sushi place, not the hotel bar — unless the particles Scaramella ingested had gotten caught on Litvinenko’s clothes when he was poisoned at the hotel, got detached somehow at the sushi place when a current of air blew by, and were inhaled by Scaramella.
That seems unlikely.
Fox said a few minutes ago that his symptoms are (obviously) less severe than Litvinenko’s. But since there’s no cure or treatment, doesn’t this mean it’s terminal? The dosage is tiny enough that it hasn’t knocked him off his feet yet, but it’s just going to circulate. Unless they can keep him alive long enough for the particles to decay — the half-life of Po210 is 138 days — then he’s got a big problem here.
The size of the dose that killed Litvinenko was about the size of a grain of sand. How small was the dose that Scaramella ingested? And if even a dose that small is enough to poison someone, then how can the Brits be confident that the 30,000 people who were on those planes are probably safe from harm?
Update: Bombshell after bombshell from the Daily Telegraph. Sounds like the cops have a pretty good idea of whodunnit:
Developments in the fast-moving tale, which has echoes of a spy thriller, include the revelations that:
• The assassins were so bungling that they dropped the polonium on the floor of a London hotel room, a senior government source told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.
• Scientists at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston are believed to have already identified the nuclear plant which made the polonium.
• Anti-terrorist officers at Scotland Yard believe the polonium was brought into London on a British Airways flight from Moscow on Oct 25, a week before Mr Litvinenko fell ill…
The senior government source, who is aware of the discussions of the Cabinet’s emergency committee, Cobra, said the picture of the killers that was emerging was closer to bungling assassins than cool James Bond-type killers.
Clear traces of the radiation were found on the floor of a room, thought to be in the Millennium hotel in central London, the source said, as well as on a light switch in the same room. The traces were so strong that they indicated the actual source of the radiation was present, not a secondary source such as excretions from Mr Litvinenko’s contaminated body.
Friends of Mr Litvinenko say that he did not visit the rooms in either of the hotels.
Update: The Evening Standard says the polonium is of Russian origin.
Update: Fox just broke in to say that the cops have evacuated a hotel in East Sussex so they can test for radiation — and that it’s now been confirmed that an unnamed “adult member” of Litvinenko’s family has also set the Geiger counters buzzing. His wife was tested earlier this week and checked out, but then Scaramella had supposedly also been tested and checked out. How long is the delay between the initial poisoning and the emergence of symptoms?
Update: Yeah, it’s his wife. Although the amount is supposedly “small.”