Warning of radioactive rain dismissed as hoax

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Observatory joined other Asian authorities yesterday in quickly dismissing rumours of radioactive rain reaching the region.

The rumours circulated via mobile phones and the internet following reports of damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

E-mails and text messages which masqueraded as an extract from a BBC newsflash were reportedly circulating in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.

The warning message said the Philippines would be hit by the radioactive rain travelling from Japan by 4pm yesterday. It advised people not to touch any rainwater over the next few days as it could be carrying radioactive particles that might cause burns, alopecia or even cancer.

The Philippines' Department of Science and Technology stated clearly on its website that the e-mail message was a fake and there was no evidence that radioactive substances had reached other countries. The National Environment Agency in Singapore also dismissed the message as untrue.

The message asked people to stay indoors for 24 hours after any rain, and to close all windows and doors. It told people to swab their necks with Betadine - an antiseptic product for minor wounds - around the throat where the thyroid gland is located.