RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - With the world still reeling from the Chernobyl disaster a year before, on Sept. 13, 1987, in Goiânia, Brazil, two thieves broke into an abandoned hospital and stole a dangerously radioactive piece of equipment that would subsequently kill four people and contaminate 249 others.

In a backroom of the abandoned Instituto Goiano de Radioterapia, local men Roberto dos Santos Alves and Wagner Mota Pereira found a machine used to bombard cancers with radiation to poison the disease into remission.

Goiânia's government was fully aware of the device and its radioactive cesium 137 core . . .

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