January 19, 2012 / 6:08 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1-Radioactive material said stolen from Egyptian plant

(Adds IAEA comment)

CAIRO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Radioactive material has been stolen from a nuclear power station on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast that was the scene of violent protests last week, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported on Thursday.

A safe containing radioactive material at the Dabaa nuclear power plant, which is still under construction, was seized while another also containing radioactive material was broken open and part of its contents taken, the newspaper said.

In Vienna, an official of the U.N. nuclear agency described the items missing as “low-level radioactive sources” which had been taken from a laboratory at the construction site. He could not give any details on the nature of the stolen items.

“We are in touch with the Egyptian authorities,” the official from the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

Al-Ahram said the government has alerted security authorities and asked that specialised teams help in the search for the stolen material.

More than a dozen people were wounded last week when military police tried to disperse hundreds of Egyptian protesters demanding the relocation of the Dabaa plant.

Plant staff have refused to go to the site because of the deterioration in the security situation there, al-Ahram said.

About 500 Egyptians rallied in front of the plant last week to demand that the project be terminated, with some saying they had lost their land on the site.

Soldiers and the demonstrators threw stones at each other and exchanged gunfire after the protesters demolished a wall surrounding the site, a security source and witnesses said. (Reporting by Patrick Werr; additional reporting by Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; editing by David Stamp)

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