Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Probe launched into computer workers' deaths

AP , MADRID

Spanish authorities are investigating possible links between a supercomputer housing much of the country's police data and the cancer deaths of six employees who worked with the machine, a police union said on Wednesday.

Six other workers at the El Escorial Data Processing Center outside Madrid, which is home to the National Police Computer, were also diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and this year, according to a report by the Unified Police Union.

"The cases involve people who work with computers and other electronic devices, leading the employees of the unit to believe there is a cause-effect relationship between the illnesses and the tasks being performed," the union report said.

Thirty of the center's 60 female employees have also been diagnosed with benign uterine tumors, union spokesman Maximiano Correal told reporters.

All but two of the personnel who died from cancer worked in the building for more than 15 years, according to police.

Three of the deaths occurred this year while the others happened between 1996 and 2003. Three died of lung cancer, two of leukemia and one of liver cancer.

The Interior Ministry, which handles police matters, said it had started an investigation but could not comment on the outcome.

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