A father and a nine-year-old son died from exposure to a radioactive object in their home while five other family members are being treated in a hospital here, the Egyptian health ministry said Wednesday.
Another 76 people were treated without being hospitalized after they showed light symptoms of contamination in blood tests conducted on some 400 people who knew the family, the ministry said.
In its statement, the ministry said that Hassan Fadl Hassan died on June 5th and his 61-year-old father Fadl Hassan Fadl died on June 16th.
Police and hospital sources said earlier that a 13-year-old daughter, Hanem, had also died.
But the health ministry said Hanem, her mother Fawzeya Abu Salaba, her sister Sabrine and her aunt Fulah Hassan Fadl were being treated in Maahad Nasser hospital in Cairo.
The statement also said the eldest son of the dead farmer, 22-year-old Saber, "an army conscript, was transferred to an armed forces hospital where he is being treated."
An official with the Atomic Energy Authority of Egypt (AEAE), speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, had described the object as containing "radioactive cobalt, which is used to detect cancer."
The state-run MENA news agency quoted a son as telling security officials from the hospital that the family had had the object in its possession for almost a year, but that he did not know where it had come from.
The son reportedly said the family did not become ill until the father and a son started rubbing the object, believing it was a precious metal to be shined.
Information Minister Safwat al-Sherif said Tuesday that a special army unit and atomic energy experts had safely removed the thumb-sized needle from the victims' home north of Cairo during an operation overnight Monday.
The health ministry added that the home was searched by the two organizations - CAIRO (AFP)
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