Alert issued after theft of radioactive material in Mexico | News | DW | 16.04.2015
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Alert issued after theft of radioactive material in Mexico

Mexican authorities have issued a warning covering several of the country's states after radioactive material was stolen from a vehicle. This is not the first time that radioactive material has gone missing in Mexico.

Mexico's Interior Ministry said in a statement issued late on Wednesday that the radioactive material, described as an iridium-192 source had been stolen from a truck in the town of Cardenas in the southern state of Tabasco. It also issued an alert for civilian protection authorities not just in Tabasco, but also the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz, as well as the federal police, army and navy.

The statement warned that direct exposure to the material posed a serious health risk.

"This source could cause permanent injuries to the person who handles it or who has been in contact with it for a brief time (minutes or hours)," the statement said. "Being close to this quantity of unprotected radioactive material for hours or days could be fatal."

This was just the latest case of radioactive material going missing in Mexico. The thieves usually are thought not to be aware of what they have stolen or the risk it poses.

Late in 2013 five suspects had to be hospitalized after stealing a truck near Mexico City, which contained a medical device containing highly radioactive cobalt-60 used for treating cancer.

Authorities in February recovered three stolen trucks that had been transporting radioactive material for industrial use. A similar theft was reported in July of last year.

pfd/sms (AFP, dpa)

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