Stolen radioactive material recovered in Mexico

AFP
Members of the Mexican Civil Proteccion check a truck around the site where stolen radioactive material was retrieved on June 18, 2014 in Tultepec, Mexico
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Members of the Mexican Civil Proteccion check a truck around the site where stolen radioactive material was retrieved on June 18, 2014 in Tultepec, Mexico (AFP Photo/Victor Rojas)

Mexico City (AFP) - The theft of a vehicle in Mexico containing a potentially deadly radioactive material briefly raised alarm Friday -- but the container was found with no leak or harm to the population.

The truck, which was transporting deadly iridium-192, a radioactive substance used in making some industrial products, had been stolen Thursday, federal civil defense officials said.

The substance "can be dangerous for human health if removed from its container," according to an official statement cautioning that the material could be lethal even if handled for only a brief time.

The truck was found shortly after it disappeared, but the radioactive material remained missing, National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente posted on his Twitter account.

Puente confirmed a few hours later that the radioactive material had also been located.

The container "was not violated, it contains the material, which was measured," he added in an interview with Milenio television.

"As it wasn't manipulated, there was surely no risk to people," Puente said.

The theft in Mexico state had prompted officials to issue an alert throughout the capital region and in neighboring states.

It recalled a similar incident in December, when thieves stole a cargo truck containing highly radioactive cobalt-60, apparently unaware of the deadly cargo within the vehicle.

Authorities ultimately arrested and hospitalized several suspects in that case after recovering the lethal material.

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