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Truck carrying radioactive material stolen in Mexico

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(RNN) - A truck carrying dangerous radioactive material was stolen near Mexico City.

Jennifer Cole, head of emergency management at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the materials could be used to make a "dirty bomb," according to NBC News.

Mexican officials notified the International Atomic Energy Agency's Incident and Emergency Center that a truck carrying a radiotherapy machine used in cancer treatment was taken Monday morning.

The truck was taking a cobalt-60 teletherapy source from a hospital in Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage center in Tepojaco.

"At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded," the IAEA stated. "However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged."

Mexican authorities are searching for the device, the IAEA stated.

Besides its use in medicine, cobalt-60 is used industrially in leveling gauges, detecting structural flaws and for food irradiation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cobalt-60 decays by giving off beta particles and gamma radiation. The CDC stated exposure to large sources of the radioactive material can cause skin burns, acute radiation sickness or death.

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