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Radiation victims critical in Delhi
Published on 10 Apr. 2010 11:56 PM IST
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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 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.
Meanwhile, Police are still groping in the dark about the origin of radio-active substance which landed in a west Delhi scrap market, leading to at least six persons falling critically ill and undergoing treatment in hospitals.
A senior police official said they had “no clue” about the origin of the material that landed in Mayapuri industrial area where scrap shops are located.
Sources said the material seems to have landed in the shop about a month ago. They said investigators need to talk to Deepak Jain, who is critical after exposure to radiation, to find out from where he bought the scrap.
Experts had identified the material in the scrap dealer’s shop as radioactive isotope Cobalt-60. Police today spoke to scrap dealers in the industrial area to ascertain the source of the material. “We also spoke to family members of Jain but they are also unaware about the source of his scrap. We are waiting for Jain to regain his health so that he can reveal from where he bought it,” the official said. A statement issued by Apollo said that Jain’s condition remained critical.
AIIMS doctors said the condition of Rajender, an employee of Jain, was “very critical”.
There were also reports about seven more persons being exposed to radiation and admitted to hospitals but police did not confirm it.

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