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Russian radioactive devices stolen

MOSCOW, Russia -- Thieves have stolen radioactive devices from a depot at a Siberian airport.

The burglars took the devices, which measure the level of icing on aeroplane flights, from the airport's depot in Ulan-Ude, a city in southern Siberia on the border with Mongolia.

Although it is the latest in a series of thefts of radioactive equipment, it is likely the thieves took the 36 gauges which contain radioactive stontium-90, for its metal value.

Vitaly Skripko, a spokesman for the local branch of the ministry for emergency situations, said the aluminum-covered gauges did not pose any danger because their level of radioactivity was extremely low.

He said the thieves had apparently wanted to sell the metal for scrap.

An investigation will be held into security at the depot, Skripko told The Associated Press.

Thefts of metal have become increasingly widespread amid poverty and slackening government controls after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Hundreds of people are electrocuted every year while trying to pilfer communication wires, electric cable and train and plane parts for selling them as scrap metal.

Large areas are left without electricity after power lines are looted.

But Russian officials have said that no weapons-grade nuclear material have been stolen.

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