Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico men detained over Mexico radiation truck robbery

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Media captionAll six men were admitted to hospital after showing signs of radiation poisoning

The authorities in Mexico have detained six men suspected of stealing a truck earlier this week carrying medical equipment including a radioactive element.

The suspects had been admitted to a hospital in Hidalgo state with possible symptoms of radiation poisoning.

The truck was stolen on Monday as the driver made an overnight stop on the outskirts of Mexico City.

It was found abandoned two days later on a nearby field.

The Mexican authorities said the protective case containing the radioactive isotope - Cobalt-60 - had been tampered with.

Anyone who came into contact with Cobalt-60 faced life-threatening levels of radiation, officials warned.

Hospitals in the area had been told to look out for people with symptoms of radiation poisoning.

The six men, aged from 16 to 38, have undergone tests at the General Hospital of Pachuca, said Hidalgo Health Secretary Pedro Luis Noble Monterrubio.

"None are showing immediate signs of radiation poisoning," said Mr Noble.

They have been discharged by doctors but have been handed over to Mexican police.

'Overnight attack'

The truck was carrying radiotherapy material from a hospital in the northern city of Tijuana for disposal.

Its driver said he had stopped on Monday night to rest at a petrol station in the town of Tepojaco, outside Mexico City, when he was attacked by two men.

He was forced out of the vehicle at gunpoint and thieves took the truck away, probably unaware of its contents.

The radioactive material was discovered on Thursday near the town of Hueypoxtla, officials from Mexico's National Nuclear Security Commission (NNSC) said.

It was barely 2km (1.4 miles) from where the lorry had been stolen.

NNSC official Mardonio Jimenez said the radioactive source had been "removed from its container and left between 500m and 700m" from the vehicle.

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