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Japanese Astronomer Dies In Chile Under Mysterious Circumstances

A prominent Japanese astronomer has died in Chile's capital Santiago under mysterious circumstances.

Fifty-eight-year-old Koichiro Morita was found collapsed outside his apartment on Monday and taken to hospital with head injuries, but he died about six hours later.

Morita, a professor at Japan's National Astronomical Observatory, had been working on an international project in Chile to build the world's largest Alma radio telescope in the Atacama Desert, Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday.

Police say neighbors heard screaming before Morita was found, and that his bag and mobile phone were missing. Police suspect that he was attacked and robbed, and are checking video from neighborhood security cameras.

Morita, one of the world's top researchers in radio telescope technology, was in Chile since 2010.

National Astronomical Observatory chief Masahiko Hayashi said he was shocked to hear of Morita's death, and that the project participants would do their best to complete the work.

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