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Radioactive cylinder kills three Egyptians

Radioactive cylinder kills three Egyptians

EGYPT : June 28, 2000

CAIRO - An Egyptian farmer and two of his children
died from radiation poisoning after the family
unwittingly took a radioactive cylinder home, hoping
the object was valuable, officials said yesterday.

Fadhl Hassan Fadhl, his wife and five children were
admitted to a local hospital earlier this month, suffering from
skin eruptions, Information Minister Safwat al-Sherif told

He said the Health Ministry took blood samples from 160
villagers and neighbouring houses were evacuated after a
special army unit pinpointed the six-cm-long (2.4 inches)
cylinder at the farmer's house as the source of the

Hafez el-Fouli, emergency committee head at Cairo's
Nuclear Research Center, said it was unclear how the
family, from Mit Halfa about 40 km (25 miles) north of Cairo,
obtained the cylinder, which he described as a sealed
radioactive source.

"We took precautions to ensure that no one had tried to
break the cylinder open," he told Reuters, adding that the
object was some form of technical or medical equipment.

He said it was unlikely the cylinder had been in the family's
possession for a year, as two of Fadhl's children said, since
they would have been affected earlier.

Sherif said the family had filed the cylinder's surface to see
whether it was made of a precious metal.


Michael C. Baker

Environmental Technology Group
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Mail Stop J594
Los Alamos, NM 87545


(505) 667-7334 (phone)
(505) 665-8346 (fax)
(505) 996-3519 (pager)

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