Two Charged with Manslaughter after Egyptian Radiation Deaths
Two people from the Egyptian company that imported a radioactive object which fatally poisoned two people have been arrested and charged with manslaughter, police and prosecutors said Sunday.
Salim Sayyed Ahmed, 47, the owner of a pipe welding firm and a 36-year-old engineer working for him, Rifaat Mohammed Ali, were accused of failing to inform authorities that the object had gone missing.
The two were arrested Saturday and public prosecutors in the town of Qalyub, north of Cairo near the village of Mit Halfa where the deaths occurred, announced the charges Sunday. They were being held for four days.
The firm had imported the radioactive object, described by nuclear experts as iridium 192, from the United States and used it to check the fastness of gas pipe joints.
An editor of the state-run MENA news agency told AFP on Thursday that the object was radium when asked to help provide a translation from the Arabic. The authorities earlier reported it was cobalt.
But Mohammed Abdelrahman Salama, president of Egypt's Atomic Security Authority, told AFP the radioactive object was iridium.
The prosecutors accused the two of neglect for leaving the object at their worksite where a 61-year-old farmer, Fadl Hassan Fadl, found it and took it home, leading to his death and the death of his son.
Egypt's Atomic Energy Authority, in a report issued on Thursday, said it suspected the object had been dumped illegally to avoid paying the fees charged to dispose of radioactive waste at its site.
The farmer and his son Hassan Fadl Hassan both died in June from exposure to the object while five more family members have been treated in hospital -- CAIRO (AFP)
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