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Radiation victims critical, bone marrow damaged

The condition of five people who were exposed to radioactive material Cobalt 60 at a scrap market here is very critical and their bone marrow is significantly damaged, their doctors said today..

india Updated: Apr 10, 2010 15:36 IST

The condition of five people who were exposed to radioactive material Cobalt 60 at a scrap market here is very critical and their bone marrow is significantly damaged, their doctors said on Saturday.

Scrap metal dealer Deepak Jain suffered severe burns and is battling for life at the Indraprashtha Apollo Hospital while four others -- Gaurav, Rajendra Prasad, Ramjee Yadav and Ram Kalab -- have been admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre.

"We are investigating the patients and several tests have been conducted on them. They may need bone marrow transplants but confirmation of this will only emerge in a day or two," a senior doctor at the AIIMS Trauma Centre said.

A senior official at the Indraprashtha Apollo Hospital said that Jain continues to be in a critical condition since the day of his admission.

"We are keeping a close tab on his health and have been updating atomic energy experts of the government of India," the official said.

The radiation was caused by exposure to radioactive material Cobalt 60. It is a hard, brittle and shiny metallic element found associated with nickel, silver, lead, copper and iron ore. It resembles nickel and iron.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had received information from the Indraprashtha Apollo Hospital that Jain, who owns a scrap metal shop in Mayapuri, was showing symptoms of suspected exposure to radiation.

Jain's body turned black after he touched the material, according to eyewitnesses.

The Crisis Management Group in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was activated and a team of officers from DAE and AERB was sent to New Delhi with a wide range of radiation monitoring and detecting equipment for prompt identification and recovery of the radioactive pieces and their safe disposal.

On its visit to the site, the team monitored the radiation levels at various positions at the scrap shop and in the adjoining areas.

"Such materials are used in industry for radiography, nucleonic gauges for thickness measurement and in medical applications," a DEA official said.

The source of radiation was located and was then shielded with locally available steel scrap to reduce the radiation level in the surrounding. The area was then sanitised.