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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3 Hospitalized After Exposure To Radiation

Two police officers and a guard at the container depot of the Kutaisi railroad station in Georgia received heavy doses of radiation when they opened capsules containing radioactive matter, Interfax reported Friday.

The three men opened an air-tight container Tuesday, broke open the three capsules they found inside and threw the capsules away, a spokesman at the Georgian Interior Ministry told Interfax.

They were rushed two days later to a local hospital, where they were diagnosed as having severe radiation poisoning. They remained in critical condition.

The container, which held contaminated nuclear waste including uranium-238 and cobalt-60, was the property of a Georgian cancer research center but had been kept in storage at the depot since 1992, the agency reported. The container was to have been forwarded to Moscow for processing, but the "authorities may simply have forgotten to dispose of it while they were engaged in conflict with former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia's supporters," Interfax said.

The radiation level within a radius of 300 meters was found to be "much in excess of admissible values" and 200 Abkhaz refugees living in the container depot had to be evacuated, the agency reported.