Wed, Nov 29, 2006
Part Of Investigation Into Death Of Former Russian Spy
ANN REALTIME REPORTING 11.29.06 1500 EST: The
mystery surrounding the death of a former Russian spy has taken an
aviation bent, as authorities grounded three British Airways
767s Wednesday after trace amounts of a radioactive substance
were discovered onboard two of the planes in London.
The planes were searched as part of a British investigation into
the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who died November 23 in a London
hospital from radiation poisoning. Once a KGB and FSB spy,
Litvinenko later became a fierce critic of the Russian government.
He escaped from Russia to the UK in 2000.
High doses of radioactive polonium-210 were found in his body,
and trace amounts of radiation have been found at sites Litvinenko
is believed to have visited. Authorities did not specify if the
radiation found onboard the planes was from polonium-210.
Authorities plan to contact thousands of passengers who flew
onboard three aircraft -- the two planes in London, and a third
still under investigation in Moscow -- within the past two
British Airways stressed the risk to the public is low.
"British Airways has been advised that three of its Boeing 767
short haul aircraft have been identified by the UK government as
part of the investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko,"
the company stated. "The initial results of the forensic
tests, which was confirmed late this afternoon, has shown very low
traces of a radioactive substance onboard two of the three
Polonium-210 is highly toxic when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed
through the skin. Radiation emitted by polonium cannot pass through
the skin, however, so it is not hazardous if it is outside,
and away from, the body.
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