Truck with radioactive device on board stolen in Chile

The dangerous device.
The dangerous device. Photo credit: CCHEN/Twitter

What appeared to be a typical case of car theft in Chile's capital of Santiago on Friday became more dire when authorities said the vehicle was carrying a dangerous radioactive substance.

Chilean nuclear agency CCHEN said the stolen vehicle, a truck, was carrying a piece of industrial radiographic equipment called a SENTINEL 880, "which contains a radioactive substance iridium-192".

Iridium-192 is a radioactive isotope of chemical element iridium, according to the US National Center for Biotechnology Information. High doses of Iridium-192 are used to treat tumours. The substance is also used in clinical X-ray systems.

"Don't touch, manipulate or attempt to utilise the device, as it can cause serious health effects," CCHEN said in a statement.

The agency posted a photo of the equipment on its Twitter account and recommended anybody who spotted it or the stolen vehicle immediately call their local police or fire department.

Reuters