|Full list of affected flightsBA statement on forensic tests|
Airways is trying to contact all 33,000 passengers who may have been
exposed to radioactive traces that were found on two of its planes.
of BA passengers were caught in the radiation scare last night after
traces of a substance, thought to be the same that killed the former
Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, were found on the planes.
spokesman for the airline said that, so far, 2,500 of the 33,000
passengers who are believed to have flown on 221 flights across Europe
since the traces were found have called in to BA's dedicated helpline.
The Government grounded one plane on Tuesday and another yesterday. A third is in Moscow awaiting tests.
are focusing on flights from Moscow to Heathrow Airport on Oct 25 and
31 and in the other direction on Oct 28 and Nov 3. Since then, the
planes, all Boeing 767s, have flown to Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Athens,
Larnaka, Madrid, Vienna, Istanbul, Frankfurt and Stockholm.
has set up a helpline for affected passengers and those with symptoms
of radiation poisoning, such as vomiting or bleeding gums, were advised
to telephone NHS Direct. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the
risk to the public was low.
Mr Litvinenko was
killed by polonium 210, which must be swallowed to be lethal. The
search of the planes points the finger of suspicion more firmly at
|Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun met Alexander Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair|
Russians met Mr Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square,
on Nov 1 and flew back to Moscow shortly afterwards. Traces of the
radioactive isotope were found in rooms at the hotel. The men, Andrei
Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, deny involvement in Mr Litvinenko's death
and neither is under police suspicion.
a former KGB agent who runs a security firm in Moscow, said he visited
London to take his wife and three children to watch CSKA Moscow play
Arsenal. Small quantities of polonium 210 were found at the Itsu sushi
restaurant where Mr Litvinenko met an Italian investigator, Mario
Scaramella, for lunch. Mr Scaramella returned to Britain on Tuesday to
help police and learnt yesterday that he was clear of radiation
Polonium 210 traces were found at Mr
Litvinenko's home in Muswell Hill, north London, at the offices of the
billionaire Russian exile Boris Berezovsky, who employed him, and at
two addresses in Grosvenor Street, one of them a private security firm.
Checks were made at the Sheraton Hotel, Park Lane, but no traces were found.
and University College London Hospitals, where Mr Litvinenko was
treated, are also in the clear. The former KGB colonel died at UCH last
Thursday shortly after making an emotional statement blaming Vladimir
Putin, the Russian president, for his plight.
HPA said last night: "As part of the police investigations, a team is
testing two British Airways planes at Heathrow and making arrangements
for a third to be tested.
"The tests are to assess
whether there is any possible risk to public health. The agency wants
to reassure members of the public that the risk of having been exposed
to this substance remains low.
"It can only
represent a radiation hazard if it is taken into the body — by
breathing it in, by taking it into the mouth, or if it gets into a
wound. It is not a hazard as long as it remains outside the body."
Direct has received 1,325 calls from the public since it issued an
alert on Saturday, of which 68 were investigated further and 21
referred as a precaution to a specialist clinic for possible
radiological exposure assessment.
The HPA assessed
160 health care workers to determine if they had been at potential risk
of contamination and asked 52 staff for urine samples. A further 105
staff and visitors at the various locations under investigation were
also asked for samples.
Yesterday the results were
returned from 16 tests, thought to be mainly of Mr Litvinenko's friends
and family, including his wife Marina and 12-year-old son. All have
been given the all-clear.
Last night Willie Walsh,
the BA chief executive, confirmed that the third aircraft would be
tested in Moscow. It was estimated that around 3,000 BA staff would
need to be checked, he added.
John Reid, the Home Secretary, expects to make a statement to Parliament today.
he chaired a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency planning
committee and received updates from police, health authorities and
others on the Litvinenko case.
The spokesman said:
"Purely on a precautionary basis, teams have been testing locations
identified as part of the police investigation."