Following hijacking of truck carrying radioactive waste, police Friday block entry to hospital where six suspects reportedly under treatment for radiation poisoning. Preschool across street is closed.
Federal police blocked access to a central Mexico hospital Friday where six people are reportedly being treated for radiation exposure. They are considered suspects in the theft earlier this week of a truck containing radioactive medical waste.
An official familiar with the case confirmed to The Associated Press that the six are suspects and have been admitted under guard to the general hospital in the city of Pachuca. They may have been exposed to a stolen source of cobalt-60.
One was suffering nausea and vomiting, a sign of radiation poisoning. The material is extremely dangerous.
Hidalgo state Health Minister Pedro Luis Noble said Friday that all six suffered from skin irritations and dizziness, but that none are in grave condition and may be released soon.
The vehicle transporting radioactive medical waste was stolen at gunpoint from a gas station on Monday before it was found abandoned about 24 miles away on Wednesday.
The driver of the truck said two armed men made him get out, tied his hands and feet and left him in a vacant lot.
The cobalt-60 pellets were left about a half mile from the truck in an empty rural field, where authorities said they were a risk only to anyone who had handled them and not to anyone in Hueypoxtla, the closest town of about 4,000 people.
According to MailOnline, this isn’t even the first time this type of thing has happened:
On average, a half dozen thefts of radioactive materials are reported in Mexico each year and none have proven to be aimed at the cargo, Eibenschutz said. He said that in all the cases the thieves were after shipping containers or the vehicles.
Unintentional thefts of radioactive materials are not uncommon, said an official familiar with cases reported by International Atomic Energy Agency member states, who was not authorized to comment on the case. In some cases, radioactive sources have ended up being sold as scrap, causing serious harm to people who unknowingly come into contact with it.
In a Mexican case in the 1970s, one thief died and the other was injured when they opened a container holding radioactive material, he said.
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