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Fake BBC News Alert Warns of Radiation Rain in Asian Countries

Message purporting to be a news flash from the BBC, claims that rain contaminated with radiation leaking from Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan may pose a danger to people living in Asian countries, including the Philippines.

Brief Analysis
The claims in the alert are untrue. The message is not from the BBC. Although radiation is indeed leaking from a crippled nuclear plant in Japan, it does not currently pose a danger to people living outside of Japan.

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BBC FLASHNEWS: Japanese govt confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plant. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, remain indoors first 24hrs. Close doors & windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions. Radiation may hit Philippines at starting 4pm today. Pls forward this msg to as many as possible

Fake BBC News Flash

BBC Flash news : Japan Government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, remain indoors first 24 hours. Close doors and windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions. Radiation may hit Philippine at around 4 pm today. If it rains today or in the next few days in Hong Kong. Do not go under the rain. If you get caught out, use an umbrella or raincoat, even if it is only a drizzle. Radioactive particles, which may cause burns, alopecia or even cancer, may be in the rain.

Detailed Analysis
Radiation alerts purporting to be from the BBC are currently circulating via text message, social networking websites and email. The warnings claim that leaked radiation from the earthquake stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan is spreading to other Asian regions, including the Philippines. The messages warn that rain contaminated with radiation may fall in Asian countries. They advise people to avoid rain as exposure could result in serious radiation related health problems. The messages also advise people to swab their necks with betadine as a precaution against radiation.

However, the claims in the messages are untrue. The warnings are certainly not from the BBC. As many news reports have indicated, there has indeed been a radiation leak from an earthquake damaged nuclear power plant in Japan. But, authorities have stated repeatedly that there is no imminent danger of radiation contamination for people living outside of Japan.

On 15th March 2011, the BBC published an article denying that the rumours originated with them:
A fake text message warning people that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant has leaked beyond Japan has been panicking people across Asia.

The SMS message, purporting to come from the BBC, has been circulating around Asian countries since Monday.

It warns people to take necessary precautions against possible effects of radiation.

The BBC has issued no such flash but the hoax has caused particular panic in the Philippines.
The Department of Science and Technology in the Philippines has also debunked the rumour. A March 14 article on abs-cbnNEWS notes:
There is no truth to text rumors that radiation from a nuclear plant in Japan has reached the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Monday.

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI)'s routine daily radiation monitoring in the environment showed the level of radiation in the environment in the country has remained stable since the Fukushima incident in Japan.

"The advice that people should stay indoors and to wear raincoats if they go outdoors did not come from DOST or any agency member of the National Disaster Coordinating Council," the DOST said in a statement.

The department also advised the public not to believe rumors currently spreading through text messages, emails, the Internet, and other means of communication.

"DOST emphasizes that there is no immediate danger of nuclear radiation in the Philippines," it said.
And a March 15 Press Release issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) notes:
The meteorological conditions in the accident region have so far been mainly off-shore, that is the winds have been dispersing materials introduced into the atmosphere from the accident site toward the open ocean, i.e., toward the northeast and to the east of the NPP at Fukushima. These conditions will fluctuate as weather systems develop and progress in the region over the coming period.
Moreover, the advice in the message to swab with betadine to avoid radiation sickness is utterly useless. Another abs-cbnNEWS article notes:
Swabbing Betadine antiseptic on the throat is useless to prevent radiation illness, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Tuesday.

"Putting Betadine on the throat is useless. Betadine is used for treating wounds. It has nothing to do with radioactivity," Dr. Agnette Peralta, head of the DOH-Bureau of Health Devices and Technology, told
The ongoing nuclear emergency in Japan is certainly extremely serious. Authorities around the world are closely monitoring the situation. However, spreading misinformation about the threat is counterproductive. The earthquake disaster in Japan and the subsequent nuclear emergency have been extensively and continuously reported by news outlets around the world. Before passing on a radiation related warning, please take the time to check, via credible news reports, if the information in the message is factual and up-to-date. Perpetrating bogus warnings about the disaster will serve only to spread unnecessary fear and alarm and make an already dire situation that much worse.

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'Radiation' text message is fake
No truth to radiation text msg: gov't
WMO monitoring meteorological conditions in quake-hit area
Betadine swab vs radiation 'useless,' says DOH
Tokyo Electric Reports New Fire at Damaged Nuclear Power Plant

Last updated: 16th March 2011
First published: 16th March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer