A 6-year-old girl and her aunt died of radiation poisoning Friday, the first fatalities in a nuclear incident last month that has contaminated at least 243 people, Brazilian officials said.
Leide Das Neves Ferreira and her 37-year-old aunt, Maria Gabriela Ferreira, died of “septicemia and generalized infection” at the Marcilio Dias navy hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Jose Maria Sampaio said by telephone.
The poisoning resulted from a lead capsule containing radioactive cesium 137 that was left at an abandoned radiation treatment clinic. The capsule found its way into the hands of Ferreira’s husband, junk dealer Devair Alves Ferreira.
He broke open the protective casing with a sledgehammer and took out the glowing powder. Relatives, friends and neighbors were fascinated by the powder. They passed it among friends and rubbed it on their bodies. Ferreira’s niece, Leide, ate some of it.