Nov 29 2006

Why The Airplanes And Polonium?

Major Update: Contrary to some reporting, the flights of interest go well beyond the Moscow to London flights. – end update

Why was Polonium possibly found on two airpplanes? Well, one quick answer to the Airplanes (which I hinted at in this recent post on Mario Scaramella and his lack of contamination) is these are the planes Scaramella (Italy) and the two Russians (Moscow) took to their respective homes after meeting with Litvinenko that fateful day. this reporting we see what could be the return flight from London for the two Russians Litvinenko met at the Mayfair Millenium hotel to discuss possible business opportunities from 4:30-6:0PM. That would probably be the 11/3 fligth (the meeting was on 11/1 with a scheduled follow up on 11/2 cancelled by Litvinenko when he fell ill). The check on the earlier flights of the plane is precautionary and to see if anyone was contaminated on the way into the UK (possible smuggling opportunity).

This reporting adds in flights that Scaramella might have taken back between Naples and London. But there are more flights on this list than I would expect which leads me to wonder about the contamination at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel. This reporting ties the investigation to a room or area (suites?) associated with one guest. We may be seeing in some of these flight locations where this mystery guest originated from. It would seem to me the police are on the trail of someone else other than Scaramella and the two Russian business men.

Another thing this tells me is the Polonium is clearly of some particulate form which is being dropped off clothing or something like bread crumbs. Litvinenko appears to have come into contact with the material and become contaminated, and at some point accidentally ingested the Polonium – possibly by puting his hand in his mouth or something. It seems he injested a large quantity – but there is no way he alone left all these trails. And it is not likely being transferred via sweat – initially. This article notes it takes some hours before the Polonium will show up in urine or feces (sweat I think will take a bit longer – depending on the dose).

More later as I read up on all the news.

Update: Well, it seems from this reporting British authorities were only looking at planes heading to Moscow after the contamination, and now one person in particular from Russia:

British Airways discovered traces of radiation on two of its aircraft flying to Moscow when police told them to check aircraft visiting the Russian capital after the death of Alexander Litvinenko.

It is understood that police have identified a man they wish to question who was staying at a London hotel, having flown from Moscow at the time that Mr Litvinenko, 43, fell ill.

One possibility being studied was that the poisoner — or his accomplices — may have been exposed to polonium themselves. It is believed the poisoner could have arrived in London up to a week before Mr Litvinenko was taken ill.

It seems the contraband Polonium deal is still a leading candidate and I think I know why. Litvinenko talked to police as he was dying to retrace his steps that fateful day. But it seems Litvinenko never mentioned some places he went (Berezovsky’s office, the Sheraton, etc) or police would have to those locations immediately – as they were with the Sushi Bar and the Milleniun Hotel. Obviusly the authorities learned of these locations from their investigation since the searches have been spread over days and days. So if Litvinenko failed to mention these others sites, it would be an indication to police he was trying to cover some tracks. I still say the Putin assassination line is a deliberate attempt at distraction. But I must admit the trail is getting closer to Moscow!

Update: It seems the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel may or may not be key in unraveling this mystery (from a previous link above):

Following their poison trail through the capital, toxicologists again checked a number of rooms and public areas in the five-star Sheraton Park Lane hotel in Mayfair today, but again found no trace of radioactive contamination.

Staff at the hotel told The Times that officers were searching a particular guest’s room, but said that the police would not tell them how this person was linked to Mr Litvinenko. It is not known if he visited the hotel during his tour around the West End on November 1.

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Why The Airplanes And Polonium?”

  1. clarice says:

    UK seems to have narrowed the search further–Latest details on the routes of the planes the UK is checking:”

    British Airways said they had been advised the risk to public health is low.

    Passengers from the following flights are being asked to come forward: • BA875 Moscow-Heathrow on October 25 – aircraft number GBNWX • BA872 Heathrow-Moscow on October 28 – aircraft number GBNWX • BA873 Moscow-Heathrow on October 31 – aircraft number GBNWB • BA874 Heathrow-Moscow on November 3 – aircraft number GBZHA

    The flights would have each been carrying up to 200 passengers” (They’ve narrowed it down, it appears).

  2. Lizarde1 says:

    so you don’t think they are looking into Lugovoy?

  3. crosspatch says:

    If they are tracking all flights of the three planes, they could have been used on more than just the Moscow/Heathrow route. That might explain the other cities involved if they are looking into all flights involving that equipment.

    Also, the police might be tracing back not only where Litvinenko went but also places where people who met with him went. So those other locations might not be omissions of Litvinenko’s in his discussions with police so much as a tracing of the movements of the others who he met with.

  4. Lizarde1 says:

    update on contaminated areas:

    note the wording – “public areas” etc.

  5. jerry says:

    I posted this also over at JOM:

    Interestingly, two of the three contaminated planes are being investigated because of flights prior to November 1 (!):

    BA875 Moscow-Heathrow on October 25 – aircraft number GBNWX
    BA872 Heathrow-Moscow on October 28 – aircraft number GBNWX
    BA873 Moscow-Heathrow on October 31 – aircraft number GBNWB
    BA874 Heathrow-Moscow on November 3 – aircraft number GBZHA

    The list of flights you linked to may be for these 4 aircraft?

    Also, I think there were 3 Russians at the Millennium with Sasha.

  6. jerry says:

    Notice the 3 contaminated plane’s numbers are listed in clarice’s post: and three of the flights of interest are before Nov 1… they’re looking for contamination before the sushi incident, and only one is after Nov 1. These 3 planes probably took the large number of flights listed in AJs link.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that Sasha met with 3 Russians at the Millenium.

  7. jerry says:

    Seems things aren’t posting immediately, sorry to muck things up.

  8. clarice says:

    His sweat? Didn;t you say it was unlikely that it could be excreted in sweat. BTW Berezovsky drove him to the hospital. If Litwinenko was shedding it–say vomiting –couldn’t that also explain it being in his office?

  9. crosspatch says:

    I read in a BBC article that it can indeed be shed though sweat. My guess is that reaction with stomach acid creates a soluable salt, probably polonium chloride, which can then be passed out through sweat.