Stolen truck carrying radioactive material found in Mexico

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Originally published on December 05, 2013

Mexican authorities have found a stolen truck carrying dangerous radioactive material used for medical treatments. The truck was stolen in Mexico on Monday (December 2) and found on Wednesday.

According to reports, the truck left Tijuana headed for the National Institute of Nuclear Investigation, in Ocoyoacac.

Local media said the vehicle was a 2.5-ton Volkswagen Worker with an integrated crane.

It carried cobalt-60, a radioactive material used to treat cancer, which was stored in a container.

At around 1:30 a.m., after stopping at a gas station to rest, the driver was accosted by two gunmen who forced him out of the vehicle, brought him to a vacant lot, tied his hands and feet and left him there while they escaped with the truck.

Authorities scrambled after hearing the reports of the theft as Cobalt-60 can potentially be used to make a so-called "dirty bomb", in which conventional explosives are used to disperse radioactive material.

After a frantic search, the stolen truck was found abandoned not far from the site it was stolen just outside Mexico City. Authorities sealed off the area but reports claim the container carrying the radioactive material had been opened. Police are said to be checking local hospitals for anyone with signs of radiation poisoning.

Experts say inhalation of Cobalt-60 can cause damage to the central nervous system and body tissues and can be lethal after an exposure of longer than four minutes.

A Reuters report from earlier this year said the IAEA receives reports of over 100 incidents of thefts and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive material each year.

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