Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Radiation Rain Japan Earthquake Triggers Radiation, Toxic Rain

Radiation Rain Japan Earthquake Triggers Radiation, Toxic Rain

Radiation, toxic rain, bogus fund-raising pages, Twitter death news and other hoaxes clogged e-mail inboxes and social networking sites after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

A hoax SMS text message claiming the radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant may hit the Philippines is making the rounds, causing a panic among the country’s residents.

The Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology confirmed the hoax on March 14. However, this is just one of dozens of different hoaxes emerging in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeast region on March 11.

These fictitious accounts of what is happening in Japan are clogging the world’s e-mail inboxes and spreading through social networking sites, spreading confusion and doubt about an already tense situation.

Hoax warnings about virus threats are a “nuisance,” and the problem is even more severe when it’s “not about a malware attack, but about a radiation health scare instead,” Graham Cluley, a security consultant at Sophos wrote on the NakedSecurity blog.

Technology has “made it all too easy” to pass on scares without verifying facts, Cluley said.

"The advice circulating that people should stay indoors and to wear raincoats if they go outdoors has no basis and did not come from DOST or the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center," said Mario Montego, Philippine’s Department of Science and Technology secretary.

One of the hoaxes that is being spread claims to be from “BBC Flashnews” and claims the Japanese government had confirmed a radiation leak at the “Fukushima nuclear plants,” Cluley said. The message continues with a list of precautions residents in Asian countries should undertake, such as remaining indoors, closing doors and windows, and swabbing the thyroid area on the neck with betadine.

Other hoax messages misspell the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as “Fukuyama,” DOST said.

The messages are being spread through text messages, e-mails, Internet and “other means of communication,” according to DOST. The department asked people to stop forwarding these messages so as “not to sow panic.”



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