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23kg radioactive device missing in Malaysia, official says 'no worries'

Staff Writer |
There is no cause for alarm over a 23kg Radioactive Dispersal Device (RDD) that has been missing since Aug. 10, according to Malaysia Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman.

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He said the police are investigating its disappearance and the situation is still under control.

"So far, everything is under control. There is nothing to be worried about at this moment," he said.

He revealed that police have nabbed some suspects with links to the case, but he declined to comment further.

"This is the first time that such a case has occurred. It just happened that there is a radioactive element when the incident took place," said Azis at the Dewan Negara today.

He added that the Inspector-General of Police would be making further announcements on developments in the case.

Meanwhile, IGP Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun revealed that this was not the first case of a missing RDD.

'It happened before and we have yet to capture the perpetrator behind the previous incident. However, we are conducting a thorough investigation in regards to the current incident,' he said in a separate event here today.

He confirmed that two men were arrested and that they were employees of the company responsible for the transportation of the radioactive device.However, the duo were released on Aug 17 following interrogation.

On Sunday, an English daily reported that officials are looking for the RDD that has been missing since Aug 10. The device, an Industrial Radiography Equipment, contains the radioactive isotope Iridium-192, which emits beta and gamma radiation as it decays during its estimated half life of 73 days.

According to published reports, Iridium-192 is one of the most stolen commercial radioactive isotopes that can be used in a dirty bomb â€' a non-nuclear device that uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material over a wide area.

The compound is safe as long as it is inside its lead-shielded casing.

Police and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) share the same concerns of it falling into the hands of terrorists or militants, or those who would treat it as a metal to be dismantled and sold for a quick buck.

The device belongs to a private company that offers testing, calibration and inspection services to heavy industries, including oil, gas and energy companies.

Citing sources, the report stated that the RDD was used by two of the company's technicians for a job in Seremban.

After completing their task, they reportedly loaded the 23kg device onto the back of their pickup truck and left for their office in Shah Alam at 2am.The device was missing when they arrived an hour later.

The duo claimed that they did not stop on their journey back, and feared that it could have fallen off their truck.

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